……and it’s not anything I’ll be sharing with Stella Caroline. Sunday night we picked our first crop of cilantro.
(She hates cilantro and claims it tastes like soap. I say this might be her only failing, the hatred of cilantro.) This was the very first year we ever had any success growing it; I have been told it is difficult to grow from seed and the last two years that has certainly been true for us.
The crop we picked was started indoors and transplanted into the herb bed in early May. I’ve done this in the past with lousy results and was expecting the same result this year. It looked anemic and wilted but it was in and that was that, in my mind. I had sort of forgotten about it, to be honest. And then on Friday J sent me and email that he’d been out looking at the gardens that morning before work and the cilantro was bolting, so we needed to use it soon.
I was convinced he had somehow confused the cilantro with parsley, but no – it was really and truly bolting and about to go to seed, rendering it considerably less tasty. Since I want to be able to continually harvest cilantro all season and didn’t want to cut every stalk in the garden, I did a little internet research at lunch on Friday and came up with a great article from Sunset magazine which instructs growers to cut off a little bit from the plants to keep the leaves growing continuously. So I sent J to go out and cut some while I changed out of my gardening clothes before making dinner. While I was upstairs he started chopping the cilantro and I could smell it on the second floor. I know for a fact that we’ve never had cilantro that fresh before, because I’ve never successfully grown it, and it’s impossible to know how long it’s been at the supermarket.
Now, what to make? I settled on Thai Style Black Bean Salad, courtesy of Taste of Home magazine, which is a must-have cooking magazine at my house. Their light recipes are almost always phenomenal. Anyway, the salad:
Thai-Style Black Bean Salad:
· 1 cup frozen corn
· 15 oz can of black beans, rinsed & drained
· 1 small onion, chopped
· 1 celery rib, thinly sliced
· 1 small sweet red pepper, chopped
· 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro (or, you know, skip this if it tastes like soap)
· 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded & finely chopped (or cheat & use a 4-oz can of chopped green chilis)
· 2 tablespoons sesame oil
· 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
· 1 tablespoon lime juice
· 2 garlic cloves, minced
· 1 teaspoon minced fresh gingerroot
· 1/2 teaspoon salt (I always skip this ingredient)
Cook corn according to package directions. Transfer to a small bowl; add the beans, onion, celery, red pepper, cilantro and jalapeno.
In a small bowl, whisk the oil, vinegar, lime juice, garlic, ginger and salt. Pour over bean mixture and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Yield: 4 servings.
I love this recipe because I almost always have all the ingredients in my fridge and pantry. I cheat by using a small can of chopped green chilis and I never refrigerate the salad for an hour before serving – I mix and serve immediately. It does taste better if you refrigerate it first, but I’m always in a rush with dinner in the summer, especially after gardening. And it makes a nice company dish, too. Unless you’re inviting Stella Caroline.