The Fresh Sheet…Cilantro

cilantro chutney - cilantro sprig

I love cilantro. I find its earthy and slightly tart citrus flavour to be refreshing, with a hint of peppery finish. But it seems that people either have a love or hate relationship with cilantro. Take my sister for example, she thinks cilantro tastes like soap and can detect even the tiniest bit of cilantro in any dish she tries. This love-hate relationship is so facinating that scientists have conducted research to understand the strong aversion to cilantro! There seems to be a few genetic traits that are linked to our sense of smell. These genetic factors may make us more sensitive to the aldehyde chemicals that give cilantro it’s unique smell and flavour and may change our perception to dislike them.

But did you know you can change your tastebuds to enjoy new flavours that you once disliked? Adults are just like kids who need to be exposed to foods numerous times and in numerous different dishes before we will accept them. The more often we expose our smell and tastebuds to the same foods and a variety of different ones, the more we can change our perception of new and unique smells and flavours. So, perhaps give cilantro another try. A Japanese study suggests that crushing cilantro leaves allows the enzymes in the leaves to convert the aldehyde chemicals into other substances that do not have that unique aroma you might dislike. I recommend crushing cilantro leaves into a vibrantly coloured and delicious Cilantro Chutney.

cilantro chutney with limes 2

Richly coloured, Cilantro Chutney is a tasty way to brighten up party snacks or a pre-dinner nibble. It makes a flavourful dip for veggies, tortilla chips or toasted naan bread. I also enjoy it as a cooling condiment for spicy dishes, roasted vegetables, baked fries and as a dressing for salads. Try it instead of pesto tossed with pasta or roasted potatoes. For a savoury snack, I will often stir cilantro chutney into plain yogurt.

cilantro chutney with chips 2

Cilantro Chutney
This recipe comes from a fellow dietitian, Gerry Kasten, who loves food and cooking and is an inspiration to our profession.

Makes 1-1/2 cups

3 cups lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves, about 1 bunch
6 green onions, coarsely chopped
1 inch of fresh gingerroot, peeled and sliced
1 jalapeno, seeded and sliced into quarters
2 tsp granulated sugar
1-1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust the sugar and salt as needed. Cover and refrigerate or enjoy right away. Chutney will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days but is best enjoyed within a day or two.

cilantro chutney - empty bowls

Local Food Challenge…Entertaining

You’ve made it through the week, politely declining coffee dates and birthday cakes and now the weekend is here. People want to spend time with you but going to a restaurant is pretty much out. So why not have people over? There are plenty of easy and delicious ways to entertain while sticking to your local food challenge. To help you out, we thought we would create a simple Get Local menu for you.

100 Mile Crostini
8 thin slices of Bread Affair 100 Mile bread
1/2 cup local chevre
1/4 cup local hazelnuts, chopped
1/2 cup blackberries, mashed
local honey

Toast bread and spread with chevre. Spoon on a bit of blackberry mash, top with hazelnuts and drizzle with honey. Heaven!

  

For a main course, keep it summer fresh with a simple grilled chicken and fresh fruit salsa!

Grilled Chicken with Blueberry Peach Salsa

4 breasts of local chicken (Polderside chicken is a special treat)
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 juicy peach, diced
2 tbsp red onion, finely diced
a splash of blueberry juice
a drizzle of honey

Combine blueberries, peaches, red onion, blueberry juice and honey. Fold gently to combine ingredients. For the grilled chicken, we sprinkled it with fresh thyme leaves and grilled it until perfectly juicy and tasty. For an impressive meal, serve Blueberry Peach Salsa over grilled chicken with local microgreens dressed in hazelnut oil and grilled corn on the cob.

For dessert, finish with grilled apricots and serve with homemade honey ice cream ( or drain yogurt in cheese cloth overnight to make a Greek style yogurt and sweeten with honey!)

Enjoy the weekend!