When you think cilantro, you think tomatoes, jalapeños, and heat. Tomato, onion, cilantro, and chile peppers are indeed a match made in heaven, but gardeners know that cilantro does not like the heat. Not only did the cilantro I seeded last fall in the high tunnel winter over, but it is growing like gangbusters now. I assumed I could harvest a bit last fall, that it would winter kill, and I would reseed this spring. I was amazed that it made it through the very harsh winter. When it gets really hot, cilantro will bolt and go to seed. At least with the high tunnel, I can enjoy it fresh now and through early summer.
I had to behead it this week to keep it under control. I found an Emeril Lagasse recipe for cilantro pesto and tried it out today. There are many recipes out there. The recipe called for 2 cups of packed leaves, so I doubled it to use up my bounty. The picture of the cilantro growing above is what is left after 4 cups of leaves were harvested. The cotija cheese and pumpkin seeds were easy to find at one of our local Mexican markets. Pumpkin seeds, or pepitas, are used often in Mexican cooking. It turned out fabulously! We were shocked to discover that it does not taste very cilantro-ey. It is a mild pesto with a unique and marvelous flavor. I put some into tonight’s lasagna and plan on tossing some gluten-free gnocchi in it for dinner tomorrow. I put 2 half-pint jars in the freezer and one in the fridge. Canning, even pressure canning, is not recommended.
An interesting side note, our goats Stella and Horton love cilantro. Who knew?