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Cilantro refers to the fresh leaves of the coriander plant and is classified as an herb. The seeds of the plant are dried, ground and used as the spice we call coriander. The leaves are essential in many Mexican dishes, while the earthy, citrusy spice is used prominently in Indian curries and chutneys. To complicate matters even more, this herb also goes by the name Chinese parsley.
Peak Season: Spring to Fall
How to select: Look for crisp, not limp, stalks and green, unwilted leaves with a light citrus fragrance.
Price range: $0.50 to $1.50 per bunch
Keep it fresh: Wrap loosely in a damp paper towel to prevent wilting, seal in a zip-top bag and refrigerate 1 to 2 days (the leaves lose flavor quickly). Wash and dry just before using.
Pairs well with: Avocados, tomatoes, onions, chiles, corn, black beans, grains (quinoa, bulgur), radishes
Creative uses: Simmer the leaves and stalks with other aromatics to flavor homemade chicken or vegetable broth. Make a meatless main dish with quinoa, corn, sliced radishes, black beans, avocado, cilantro and lime vinaigrette.
Nutrition highlights: Cilantro contains a long list of phytonutrients including flavonoids and phenolic acid compounds, which may help lower blood sugar levels and protect cell membranes.