Ingredient Focus: Cilantro

Cilantro

Rarely does a food so definitively separate the lovers from the haters as in the case of cilantro. This herb, which is from the same plant as coriander seeds, is common across cultures, appearing sprinkled on enchiladas, folded into chili, and mixed into Middle Eastern Baba Ghanoush.

To some, cilantro actually tastes like soap. If that's what the herb tastes like, then maybe there's no sense in eating it. However, if you do like this vegetal ingredient, there are myriad benefits within its green leaves.

The essential oils in cilantro help the production of digestive enzymes, acids and juices, which in turn helps to stimulate digestion. A great source of iron and magnesium, cilantro helps remove toxins from the body.

Preparing cilantro to use in your cooking is easy. Just be sure to wash the leaves under water to remove all possible dirt and grime. Using the leaves as well as the stems will intensify the flavor. To prepare cilantro for your recipes, bunch the leaves together and cut uniformly in one direction using a chef's knife.

Many recipes call for cilantro in small doses, which means you have a lot leftover in your refrigerator. Plan ahead so that you're able to make the best use of it. Maximize cilantro flavor in a cilantro pesto, or fold a handful into scrambled eggs. The possibilities are endless to add flavor to a variety of dishes!

What is your favorite way to use cilantro?