I’m not a big fan of extremes. I actually cringe when people say you have to either love or hate something. What about all that in between? I don’t *like* cauliflower, I certainly don’t love it, but I don’t hate it either. Why make me pigeonhole myself?
The exception in my mind is cilantro. I know people who love it, and I know people who hate it. I struggle to think of anyone who’s somewhere in the middle. In fact, studies have been done showing that some people are apparently genetically predisposed to hate cilantro – to them it tastes like soap. Lucky for me, I am one of those people who love it.
Lucky indeed. Cilantro, also known as coriander in our mother country, abounds in Mexican food and Asian food – I can’t imagine if I were restricted in being able to eat those genres. It has an amazing garden-y flavor that is hard to match with any substitute. Sure, if you hate it, you can use flat leaf parsley until the cows come home. But it’s just not the same. (Not to dis parsley, which I also love).
Cilantro isn’t exactly a nutritional powerhouse. It does offer some fiber, Vitamin A, and other vitamins, but it isn’t exactly a major source. But you know what? It has no calories, no fat, no sodium. And yet it adds more flavor to a dish than you can imagine. Use it liberally, my friends.
It also happens to go very well with many vegetables, including the humble cucumber.
Cucumbers are known for their refreshing qualities, their crunchy texture, and their omnipresence in spa water. They are a tad underappreciated when it comes to their mild but distinctive flavor, and their benefits for your skin (they are hydrating and filled with silica, which is good for the complexion). It’s a good idea to get cucumbers with digestible skin, such as Japanese (pictured above) or Persian. This way you can eat the skin, which is where much of the nutrition is.
Normally when you think of salsa, you think of tomatoes, or maybe tomatillos. But today we’re making a spicy salsa out of cucumbers, cilantro, and black beans. We used it in chicken burritos, but you could have it with chips, or as a side dish in its own right. It’s spicy and crunchy, filled with personality, and ready to party. (What do you mean I personify my food too much??)
Cucumber Cilantro Salsa (makes 3 cups)
- 2 Japanese or Persian cucumbers
- 1 cup of cooked and cooled (canned is fine) black beans
- generous 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 2 tbsp lime or lemon juice
- generous pinch of salt
- 2 tsp hot sauce
1. Slice the cucumbers in half lengthwise. Use a teaspoon to scrape out the majority of the seeds. Cut each half in half again, then chop the quartered cucumbers into 1/2 inch pieces. Put into a bowl.
2. Add the black beans, cilantro, and lime or lemon juice to the bowl. Toss everything together. Season with salt and the hot sauce (add more or less hot sauce to taste). Stir well. This will keep overnight in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator. Serve cold or at room temperature.