Surplus cilantro from Cinco de Mayo can make for yummy herb-infused snacks and healthy meals—all made from leftovers!
Anyone who has ever made guac has likely come across this next-day conundrum: a whole lot of extra cilantro and no idea what to do with it. While leftover avocadoes, tomatoes, onions, and garlic can certainly find a home in salads, side dishes, and dinner, guac’s hallmark green herb can sometimes find itself in the trash. (Not anymore! Cilantro, Sorrel, and 8 More Fresh Produce Picks for May.)
But that’s a bummer, considering the fact that cilantro’s not only packed with flavor, but its green leaves are filled with antioxidants, vitamins, essential oils, and fiber. So it’s time to use up the entire bunch—and add some flair to your dishes in the meantime.
1. Wash, chop, freeze. After you use what you need, store the rest in a small plastic bag in the freezer, says Keri Gans, R.D., author of The Small Change Diet and Shape Advisory Board member. You can take what you need at a time, while also keeping the herb fresh. Pro tip: Use snack size bags and measure out serving sizes beforehand to save yourself time later.
2. Add some water. “You can store fresh cilantro in the fridge with the stems down in a glass of water (changing the water about every day) or gently wrap in a damp paper towel and place in a re-sealable bag in the refrigerator for up to seven days,” says Toby Amidor, R.D., nutrition expert and author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.
1. Spice up your salsa. Store-bought or homemade, a little bit of cilantro can add a lot of flavor to tomato or mango salsa, says Amidor.
2. Rethink taco Tuesday. “Sprinkle as a garnish for tacos,” says Amidor. Or, take that a step further and top your tacos with a garlicky, flavorful cilantro chimichurri sauce.
3. Say goodbye to boring salads. Chop extra cilantro and toss it with lettuce as the base of your next salad, suggests Amidor. Better yet, forgo the lettuce entirely for this tequila lime shrimp salad with a cilantro base or a black bean, corn, and cilantro salad.
4. Don’t neglect the stems! Unlike other herbs, cilantro stems are tender and flavorful, says Amidor. Use them in a salad or to flavor water for couscous (and then remove before serving).
5. Switch up your skewers. Peppers and onions don’t need to hog the skewer. Add in chopped, fresh cilantro for a whole new take on a favorite warm-weather dish. Try: cilantro lemon chicken skewers.
6. Add more green to your smoothie. Spinach + lime + cilantro = lots of good-for-you greens, with extra flavor to boot. Try: chia pineapple smoothie from Health Warrior.
7. Forget boring dips and sauces. Hummus or pesto sauce seem a little simple? A few dashes of cilantro can help, says Gans. You could also try a creamy cilantro dipping sauce.
8. Wake up a rice dish. Rice and beans is a classic, but for the meatless among us, it can grow boring. But chop and mix leftover cilantro into your rice, like Amidor suggests, and you'll wind up with tastiness in every bite. Try: Cuban black beans and rice.
9. Season your fish. Sprinkle fresh chopped cilantro over grilled fish, says Amidor. With a recipe like our citrus cilantro salmon en papillote, you'll not only be promised an easy clean up, but you'll also seal in lots of ginger and citrus flavor!
10. Scramble it in some eggs. Scrambled eggs cling to a bad and boring rep. Change that by scrambling more than just the staple protein! (A breakfast quesadilla with 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro is just one of our 9 Quick and Healthy Breakfasts to Eat on the Go!)