As a professional chef, I have used cilantro and parsley in countless dishes over the years. These herbs are staples in many cuisines around the world, but they often get relegated to supporting roles as mere garnishes or ingredients in salsa and tabbouleh. However, these versatile herbs can do so much more than that.
In this article, I want to explore the various ways you can use cilantro and parsley beyond their traditional uses. From infusing oils and vinegars to adding them to soups and stews, there are countless possibilities for incorporating these herbs into your cooking repertoire.
So if you’re ready to take your culinary skills up a notch and experiment with new flavors and techniques, read on for some creative ideas on how to use cilantro and parsley in your kitchen.
Incorporate into Soups and Stews
You can easily add a burst of fresh flavor to your favorite soups and stews by tossing in some chopped cilantro and parsley and letting them simmer with the rest of the ingredients. Not only do these herbs add a pop of color to your dish, but they also bring out the natural flavors of the other ingredients.
I particularly love adding cilantro to spicy dishes like chili or pho for an extra kick. Using flavorful broths as a base for your soup or stew is key when incorporating herbs like cilantro and parsley. The herbs blend seamlessly with chicken or vegetable broth, creating a deliciously fragrant meal.
For heartier dishes like casseroles, try mixing in chopped parsley with breadcrumbs for a savory topping that will impress any dinner guest. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different herb combinations according to your taste preference – you never know what unique flavor profile you might discover!
Use as a Garnish
Now, when you’re plating your meal, don’t forget to sprinkle a bit of that green goodness on top for an extra pop of flavor and color. Both cilantro and parsley can be used as garnishes to elevate the visual appeal of your dishes while adding a burst of freshness to each bite.
Here are some creative plating techniques that incorporate these herbs:
- Chop up some fresh cilantro or parsley leaves and sprinkle them over grilled meats or roasted vegetables for an added layer of texture and flavor.
- Create edible flower arrangements by placing sprigs of cilantro or parsley on top of salads or soups.
- Use whole stems of cilantro or parsley as skewers for appetizers like shrimp or chicken satay.
- Garnish cocktails with a sprig of either herb to add a touch of herbal aroma and taste.
By using these simple techniques, you can turn any ordinary dish into something visually stunning and delicious. So next time you’re in the kitchen, reach for those herbs and get creative with your plating!
Make a Homemade Chimichurri Sauce
I love making homemade chimichurri sauce because it adds a burst of flavor to any dish. One of my favorite ways to enjoy it is by pairing it with grilled meats such as steak or chicken.
It’s also a great way to add a zesty kick to vegetables like roasted carrots or grilled zucchini.
Pair with Grilled Meats
Grilled meats and herbs are a match made in heaven, with the flavors coming together so perfectly that it’s like fireworks exploding in your mouth. When it comes to pairing grilled meats with cilantro and parsley, I always opt for a homemade chimichurri sauce.
Not only is it easy to make, but it also adds a burst of fresh flavors that perfectly complement the smoky taste of grilled meats. To take things up a notch, I experiment with different grill side pairings and marinade mixtures.
For example, I love serving chimichurri sauce alongside grilled skirt steak and roasted vegetables such as bell peppers and onions. The sweetness of the veggies balances out the tangy flavors of the sauce while adding some texture to each bite. Additionally, marinating chicken breasts in a mixture of lime juice, olive oil, garlic, cilantro, and parsley before grilling them creates juicy cuts that burst with herbaceous notes when combined with chimichurri sauce.
Add a Zesty Kick to Vegetables
You’ll want to try adding a zesty kick to your veggies with a homemade chimichurri sauce that perfectly complements the roasted flavors and adds an extra burst of fresh herbs.
Roasting vegetables is one of my go-to cooking techniques for bringing out their natural sweetness and depth of flavor. I love to pair cilantro and parsley together in my chimichurri sauce, which gives it a bright, herby taste that takes any vegetable dish to the next level.
When exploring flavor combinations with cilantro and parsley, I like to think about the different roasting techniques that can be used for various vegetables. For example, root vegetables like carrots and parsnips benefit from longer roasting times at lower temperatures to bring out their sweetness, while cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower do well with shorter roasting times at higher temperatures for a crispy exterior.
No matter what technique you use though, adding a dollop of chimichurri sauce on top will elevate any roasted vegetable dish into something truly special.
Infuse into Oils and Vinegars
Transform any ordinary oil or vinegar into a fragrant and flavorful addition to your kitchen by infusing it with the unique tastes of cilantro and parsley.
Infusing herbs into oils and vinegars is an easy way to add depth and complexity to your cooking, without too much effort or expense. The process involves heating up the oil or vinegar on low heat with fresh herbs for a short period, which allows the flavors to meld together.
Here are some tips for using cilantro and parsley in your infusions:
Experiment with different infusing techniques: There are several ways to infuse herbs into oils and vinegars, including cold infusion (letting the herbs steep in the liquid at room temperature), warm infusion (heating the mixture on low heat), or hot infusion (blanching the herbs in boiling water before adding them to the liquid). Each technique produces slightly different results, so try out different methods until you find one that suits your taste.
Consider flavor combinations: Cilantro has a bright citrusy flavor, while parsley is more herbaceous and earthy. Depending on what you’re using the infused oil or vinegar for, you may want to pair cilantro with other citrusy ingredients like lemon peel or lime juice, while parsley goes well with garlic or shallots.
Experiment with ratios: The amount of herbs you use will depend on how strong you want the flavor of your infused oil or vinegar to be. Start conservatively – a few sprigs of cilantro or parsley per cup of oil/vinegar – and adjust from there based on taste preferences. Remember that over-infusing can result in bitterness, so don’t leave your herbs in for too long!
Add to Salads and Grain Bowls
Adding infused oils and vinegars to your salads and grain bowls is like adding a burst of sunshine on a cloudy day. I love experimenting with different herb-infused dressings and marinades to add that extra oomph of flavor to my meals.
Parsley and cilantro are perfect herbs for this as they have a bright, fresh taste that pairs well with so many ingredients. One of my favorite ways to incorporate these herbs into my salads is by adding them to roasted vegetables. Roasted carrots, beets, and sweet potatoes go particularly well with parsley, while cilantro complements roasted peppers, onions, and zucchini nicely.
Adding some quinoa mix-ins like toasted nuts or dried fruit can also make for a delicious salad or grain bowl. And don’t forget about the dressing! A simple vinaigrette made with herb-infused vinegar can tie everything together perfectly.
In conclusion, using cilantro and parsley in cooking is like adding a touch of magic to any dish. Just like how the right amount of seasoning can turn a bland meal into a flavorful masterpiece, these herbs have the power to transform ordinary dishes into mouthwatering delights.
It’s amazing how versatile cilantro and parsley are – from soups and stews to salads and grain bowls, they add depth and complexity of flavor that takes your taste buds on a journey. And let’s not forget about their visual appeal – as garnishes, they bring pops of color that make even the simplest dishes look more appetizing.
So next time you’re in the kitchen, don’t be afraid to experiment with these herbs beyond just salsa and tabbouleh. Whether you’re making a homemade chimichurri sauce or infusing them into oils and vinegars, there are endless possibilities for creating delicious meals with cilantro and parsley.
Trust me, your taste buds will thank you!