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Contributed by: Jennifer Wickes

Cilantro - Coriandrum sativum

by Jennifer A. Wickes copyright 2004

What is it?

Cilantro is the green leaves and stems of the coriander plant. It has a pungent flavor that cannot be duplicated in its dried form.

Where did it originate from?

Cilantro has been around for centuries, but is usually seen in Asian, Caribbean and Latin American cuisines.


Fresh herbs should be carefully washed then wrapped in a damp paper towel, then placed in a plastic bag and stored in the butter compartment of the refrigerator for a week.

Dried herbs will only maintain freshness for 6 months to a year, so the smallest possible sized container should be bought if any particular herb is not used often.


Choose leaves that have a bright green color and no signs of wilting.

Despite it coming from the coriander plant, it cannot be used interchangeably. Coriander are the seeds to the coriander plant.

Serve with:

avocado, dried beans, chicken, turkey, chili, corn, cucumber, salad greens, tomatoes.


Cilantro Pesto Pasta Salad

  • 1 pound dry rigatoni or other small pasta shape
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves -- loosely packed, washed
  • 2 cloves garlic -- crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup sliced black olives
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper -- to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions, drain well. Meanwhile, blend oil, cilantro, garlic and oregano in blender container. Toss pasta with dressing; toss in pine nuts and olives; season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and let sit at room temperature up to 2 hours or cover and refrigerate. Toss again before serving.

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