How I saved my greens.

I’m ashamed to think of how much cilantro has gone bad in my fridge over the years. I love it, and so I buy a fresh bunch from time to time, which isn’t usually that pricey, but still, when it goes into the trash slimy and blackening, it’s a sad waste. 😦

Today I was busying myself cooking up vegetables that came in my CSA (community supported agriculture) box, and I came to the bunch of cilantro… Hmm… Maybe I had planned to combine that with tomatoes and peppers to make more Indian Egg Bhurji. But — No tomatoes were in the house, and I didn’t want to spend time de-stemming cilantro anyway. (I must need a special prayer to pray while I am doing that perfectly lovely job that seems so tedious. That’s what Kate told me to do about my boring floor exercises.)

An idea came to me when I saw the bag of arugula I’d bought yesterday — also something that I love, which I probably thought I’d put in a green salad, if I could get around to washing the lettuce… When I was a child, the task of preparing the large, leafy-green salad that without fail was part of our evening meal always fell to us children. I always wonder if I am harboring a childish rebelliousness deep in my psyche, that makes me resist salad-making, too.

The thought that occurred was, Could I make a sauce or pesto by combining arugula and cilantro? I’m not confident enough as a chef to go right at it, so I looked online and found that many people had done just that, with great variations. I customized mine to be fast-friendly (vegan) and not too lemony, and to use more arugula than cilantro, because I had a lot more of that leaf on hand. I kept the ingredients list short, and didn’t add garlic or pepper because the greens are both pretty flavorful already.

Here is what I came up with. All the amounts below are approximate. Many people like their pesto less thick, and will add more oil. Before washing the cilantro, I cut off the longest stems while they were still tied together in a bunch, but left the rest of the stems for the food processor to deal with. No de-stemming by hand!

SAVE the GREENS PESTO

3 cups packed cilantro
4 1/2 cups packed arugula
1/3 cup sunflower oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 cup toasted walnut pieces

Grind the walnuts in the food processor and then add the other ingredients to make a paste, adding more oil or salt or lemon to taste.

Until today I never paid much attention to all those “pestos” made from everything but the classic basil-olive oil-Parmesan combination, but recently I learned how to make Tarragon Salsa Verde from Jo, and found it very adaptable and always delicious. (I have planned to share my results with you but this recipe pushed ahead in line.)

I think its versatility gave me the hope that other green things could work together the same way. And they did indeed form something easy that saved us, greens and human, from possible shame, and added another tasty and healthy item to my menu options. Now I can spread my salad on crackers!

8 thoughts on “How I saved my greens.

  1. I hate to make salads. Far too much lettuce has been thrown out in my lifetime. Of course, I hated to eat salad as a child, too. It seemed unutterably boring. I just hated it. Now, I could eat it every day if someone fixed it for me, but unfortunately that’s not going to happen. So, I try and keep the greens to a minimum and go heavy on tomatoes, avocadoes, and so on.

    It’s not related, exactly, but one trick I’ve developed is grating an entire bunch of carrots at the beginning of the week. They’ll last that way for quite some time, and being able to simply add a dollop of grated carrot to a salad is something I can bring myself to do.

    My newest favorite, though, is cilantro-cotiljo presto. You can see what it is and what to do with it here. I love it on fish, too. It’s especially good on fish tacos.

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  2. I’m not a fan of Cilantro but I buy it for my pet bunny. I shop at the Indian market and get 3 bunches for a dollar. That more than feeds bunny for a week ( in addition to dandelion leaves, grass and the occasional carrot.)

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  3. 1) That looks delicious and I have the same problem with generally wasting about 1/2 of my bunch of cilantro!

    2) Do you know how to get your lovely African violet to re-bloom. Mine has been looking very happy on my kitchen windowsill for more than a year, but no blooms, since the original flowers it had when I bought it.

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    1. My housemate bought two violets in bloom to use as table decorations for my birthday party three years ago, and they were a gift to me, too. Since then she is usually the one who waters them. I feed them a couple of times a year… but neither of us really knew anything beforehand about how to take care of them. One of them does bloom more than the other, even though it had very little dirt. I just repotted it in more soil… We think perhaps they are just getting the light exposure they like…?

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  4. I love cilantro; my husband hates it intensely. So much of it goes bad before I can use it up. I think this is a brilliant way to save it! I freeze my basil pesto, and I’m sure this can be frozen, too.

    My daughter makes a kale pesto that her little daughter has enjoyed since she was 4. I haven’t ventured into that yet.

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  5. I like the idea of spreading it on crackers! Sounds like a nice, snacky supper. I adore cilantro. Have you thought of growing it in your garden? Once I started a good many plants from seed one year, now it reseeds itself continually and i always have cilantro in the herb bed. I snack on it as I walk by! Your dish looks very healthy and yummy.

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