March 5, 2011

Cilantro Pesto and things to eat with it

I have never understood why some people don't like cilantro.  It's got this bright and sunny flavor that goes well with any protein or vegetable, that just taste like "fresh."  It's my deserted island herb- if I could only bring one, it'd be cilantro.  I understand not liking parsley, or rosemary, or even not being a fan of basil (although I'd probably give you grief about that one).  Maybe it's like the aspartame-flavor gene, some people have a bad cilantro-flavor gene.... and I say, all the better for me- more to grace my plate!
After a trip to the Asian market, E and I found ourselves with some really fragrant bunches of cilantro.  It's so hard to find potent cilantro in the grocery stores, and here in the DEB house, cilantro is a regular craving.  We decided to do something different from our usual Mexican application of the herb, and made some pesto out of the cilantro to dip yucca fries in.  We also made a pot of black beans that I could have eaten for every meal, and served these with a beautiful piece of red snapper, seasoned only with salt and pepper and seared just until it was cooked through.  The meal was simple, but bursting with flavor.  And I dare you to eat just one spoonful of the pesto.  It's addicting.  
Cilantro Pesto
1-2 bunches of cilantro
handful of sunflower seeds, pepitas, almonds or combo of the three
juice of 1 lime
olive oil

Put the first three ingredients in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add a large pinch of salt, turn on the food processor again, and stream olive oil in until you get a nice consistency.  Taste for seasoning, add more salt or lime juice if needed.
Yucca Fries
1 large or two small yuccas
olive oil

Preheat oven to 400F.  Peel the yucca and cut into large-sized fries.  Boil water and add yucca.  Cook for 20-30 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork.  Drain and toss with olive oil and salt, then spread out over a baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes.
Black Beans
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes
1 small red onion, chopped into large chunks
1 clove garlic, diced
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder, crushed red pepper OR 1-2 jalapenos, diced

Heat a medium-sized pot over medium-high heat.  Add a drizzle of olive oil, then add the onions and garlic and cook for a few minutes to soften.  Add the cumin and hot pepper, the add the black beans and tomatoes.  Season with a generous pinch of salt, stir to combine and turn the heat to medium-low.  Cook for 20-30 minutes, or until the onions have completely softened. Taste for seasoning, and additional salt, cumin, or pepper if needed before serving.

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