Sunday, May 1, 2016

Don’t Miss the Boat: It’s Time to Plant Cilantro! by Amy Bubar

Cilantro, photo courtesy CSU Extension
I had the most delicious soup the other day at my favorite neighborhood eatery.  Creamy and rich, it also had the unmistakable fresh, bright essence of a certain herb, which served as the perfect reminder:  Now’s the time to plant cilantro!

Here are some tips if you’re new to growing cilantro (coriandrum sativum):

Photo courtesy Sonoma County Master Gardeners
  • Unlike other herbs, cilantro seeds prefer to germinate in cooler temperatures
  • Cilantro likes a lot of sun and soil that is moist, yet well-drained
  • Plant seeds directly into soil after the threat of frost and be sure to mulch around the seedlings as soon as they emerge. Click here to tell the last average frost date in your area.  
  • If you plant cilantro later in the season it can tend to bolt and produce flowers, at which point the plant leaves lose some of its unique flavor characteristics.
  • If your plants bolt, have no fear!  The bees love the flowers and the coriander seeds produced by the cilantro flowers can be dried and used in a variety of dishes too. But note, cilantro (also referred to as Chinese parsley in some recipes) and coriander have very different flavor profiles and textures.  
  • Consider succession planting every few weeks because of cilantro’s short growing season
  • Fertilize once or twice during the growing season with a nitrogen-based fertilizer, but don’t over-fertilize as this can rob the plant of flavor
  • Cilantro/coriander plants grow well in containers or tucked in with your vegetable plants in the garden
Is it any wonder these two ingredients pair perfectly in this soup? Cilantro is actually part of the carrot family!  

Photo courtesy

Carrot and Cilantro Soup (Country Living, April 24, 2011)
1 tbsp. olive oil

1 lb carrots

1 small onion

3 cup vegetable stock

1 tsp. coriander seeds

1 bunch fresh cilantro
  1. In a large, heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat, heat olive oil.  Add onion and coriander.  Reduce heat to low and cook, covered until onion is softened but not browned, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add carrots.  Cook, covered, until softened, 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. In a separate pot, bring stock to a boil.  Add onion-carrot mixture and bring back up to a boil.  Transfer to a blender or food processor and blend (in batches, if needed) until smooth.  Season with sea salt.
  3. To serve, return soup to pot, stir in chopped cilantro, and reheat on low.  Ladle soup into warmed bowls and garnish with cilantro.