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Fresh and Flavorful Cilantro

Six ways to include the herb in your cooking.


Have you ever grabbed cilantro when reaching for parsley, only to realize your error upon taking a whiff? This herb has a very distinct aroma—vibrant, citrus, and for me, reminiscent of summer. However, there are some people (“cilantrophobes”) who feel the smell and taste reminds them of soap—and for good reason. Flavor chemists have discovered that cilantro’s aroma shares some molecules with soap. If you happen to be a cilantrophobe, substitute parsley in these recipes.

Cilantro has its roots in several regions, including Asian and Latin, which boast their own varieties like Vietnamese cilantro and Mexican ‘culantro’. Although visually different, “there are a number of varieties that basically taste the same,” says Sal Gilbertie, owner of Gilbertie’s Herb Garden in Westport. But no matter its appearance, cilantro’s unique flavor deserves more than a sprinkle in your guacamole.

Add to a salad. Your bowl of lettuce won’t be boring anymore.

Sprinkle on scrambled eggs. Cilantro adds color and zest to breakfast.

Muddle in your margarita. Crush a handful of cilantro with kosher salt in a small bowl and add to a pitcher of margaritas ahead of time. The unexpected flavor will pleasantly surprise your guests.

Shrimp and Avocado with Cilantro. Combine cooked shrimp, cubed avocado, and chopped cilantro. Drizzle with fruity olive oil and lime juice, and sprinkle with kosher salt.

Sesame Noodles with Cucumber and Cilantro (makes 4 servings)

  • 8 oz. thin spaghetti or soba noodles
  • 1/4 cup sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3/4 cup julienned cucumber
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
  1. Cook noodles according to directions.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk next seven ingredients.
  3. Drain noodles and return to pot.
  4. Pour sauce and toss gently to coat.
  5. Add cucumbers and cilantro and carefully combine.
  6. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  7. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Grilled Chicken and Pepper Tostadas with Cilantro (makes 4 servings)

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 bell peppers, quartered
  • 1/2 cup cooked corn
  • 8 flour tortillas
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • Kosher salt
  1. In a measuring cup, combine marinade ingredients.
  2. Place chicken in a baking dish and cover with marinade. Let sit for at least 1 hour, turning chicken often. 
  3. Grill chicken 6 minutes a side.
  4. Meanwhile, grill peppers skin-side down until slightly charred, 5-6 minutes. Grill tortillas until puffy and starting to blacken, 1-2 minutes total.
  5. Slice chicken and keep warm. Slice peppers and place in bowl. Add corn, olive oil, lime juice, and cilantro; season to taste with salt.
  6. Toss gently to combine. 
  7. Top tortillas with sliced chicken and pepper and corn mixture. 

Gilbertie’s Herb Garden

7 Sylvan Lane

Westport, CT 06880

(203) 227-4175


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