Many people anticipate summer’s abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables. Some of us, on the other hand, look forward to the fresh herbs. Grown in a patio tub outside your door, they are interesting to look at, provide wonderful fragrance, and are always at hand to offer a special zip to whatever you have cooking.
Coriandrum sativum, also known as coriander and even more commonly as cilantro, is a versatile herb with roots that stretch back centuries. A recent review in the Pharmacognosy Journal describes the herb as “the most commonly used flavoring in the world.”
Its origin can be traced back to southern Europe and the Mediterranean region and the plant produces two distinctly different flavors. The first is the leaves of green coriander, which is also known as Chinese, Mexican, or Japanese parsley. You’ll find it adding freshness to salsa and salads, in particular. See page 36 for some fresh salsa recipes with pizazz.
The fruit, often called “seeds” have a distinctly different flavor and, when dried and ground, the spice is used in cooking, candies, soaps, perfumes, and medicines. Traditionally, it has been used as an analgesic, carminative, digestive, anti-rheumatic, or antispasmodic agent. Modern pharmacology has identified it as providing significant hypoglycemic action, potent antioxidant levels, protection from cell mutation, antimicrobial effects, and muscle relaxation properties.