Last weekend, when my mom was in town, we stopped by the farmers market and picked up a HUGE bunch of cilantro for $1. Seriously, we couldn’t pass it up. And although I was tempted to leave it as the centerpiece for the table, Idecided to try a few new recipes. Cilantro pesto and beef & cilantro bites.
(adapted from the Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup pine nuts
2 cups cilantro
1/2 cup grated parmesan or romano cheese (I used romano this time.)
4 cloves of garlic, peeled & quartered
1/4 teaspoon salt
In a food processor or blender, combine oil, nuts, cheese, garlic and salt. Cover and process or blend until nearly smooth.
Chicken & Cilantro bites
(adapted from Gourmet, May 2005)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar (not seasoned)
1 lb ground chicken (not breast meat) (I used beef, because that’s what I had on hand.)
1 large egg
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
2 scallions, finely chopped
2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Stir together soy and vinegar in a bowl for dipping sauce.
Stir together chicken, egg, cilantro, scallions, sesame oil, and salt with a fork until just blended.
Spread cornstarch in a shallow baking pan. With wet hands form chicken mixture into 1-inch balls, transferring them to baking pan as formed. Wash and dry your hands, then gently roll balls in cornstarch until coated. (Balls will be soft.) (I rolled mine in panko bread crumbs, thinking it would be crispy – not so.)
Heat 1/4 cup vegetable oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then cook half of balls, turning over occasionally, until firm and golden (they will flatten slightly), 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Add remaining 1/4 cup oil to skillet and cook remaining balls in same manner. Serve meatballs with dipping sauce. (I baked mine in the oven for 20 minutes at 350.)
Things I’d change for next time:
1. Use parmesean, not romano cheese. The romano had a very distinct flavor.
2. Use lean beef – I think what I had was 75% lean, but I didn’t realize how that would affect it until they were done.
3. Half the amount of sesame oil in the meatballs. They had a very distinct flavor with that much sesame oil.
4. Find a different dipping sauce for the meatballs … If you use the one they suggest, 1/2 the amount of vinegar, otherwise it’s too vinegary.
Overall, not bad. But would be much better with the above tweaks.