Thursday, February 7, 2013

Gloria's Cilantro-Lemon Dressing & Marinade

Cilantro (aka fresh coriander) is used in a variety of ethnic cuisines, including Mexican, Indian and Asian recipes. This simple salad dressing and marinade can be enjoyed "as is" or spiced according to the traditions of any of those cuisines, then tossed with green salads; drizzled over steamed, grilled or broiled vegetables; and as a marinade for scallops, shrimp or fish (no more than 30 minutes marinating time). Here is my basic recipe, followed by suggestions for how to adapt it for a touch of ethnic flair.

1 small bunch of cilantro, leaves & stems coarsely chopped (approx. 1 1/2 cups)
Juice of 1 lemon (approx. 1/3 cup)
1 Tbs brown sugar
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp mild Dijon mustard
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Salad with Cilantro-Lemon Dressing
Combine cilantro and lemon juice in a blender or food processor and process until smooth -- you may need to stop a few times to to scrape the bowl/sides with a spatula to facilitate blending or processing. Add the remaining ingredients except the oil and process or blend until combined. With the blender or food processor running, slowly drizzle in the oil and process until fully incorporated. Taste for balance and add more of any of the seasonings if desired. For a more tangy flavor, add a little cider vinegar and blend. For a lighter flavor, blend in a little more oil. Makes about 1 cup and will keep several days refrigerated in a tightly lidded jar (thickening after refrigeration is normal, as is some separation; stir well before using).

For Mexican flavor: Blend in 1/4 to 1/2 tsp chili powder, 1/8 tsp chipotle powder and 1/8 tsp ground cumin with the other spices; for heat add red pepper flakes and/or habanero powder to taste. You can also substitute lime juice for the lemon juice.

Indian-spiced cucumber & carrot with Cilantro-Lemon Dressing
For Indian flavor:  Add 1 minced garlic clove plus 1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger, 1/4 tsp ground cumin, 1/4 tsp ground coriander & 1/8 tsp ground turmeric with the other spices; OR add 1/4 tsp to 1/2 tsp garam masala with the other spices.

For Asian flavor:  Add 1/2 tsp or more fresh grated ginger with other seasonings; Other additions you can use include a little bit of chopped fresh lemongrass blended with the cilantro and lemon juice (you can substitute lime juice for the lemon), and/or up to 1 Tbs sesame oil (you can substitute vegetable, canola or peanut oil for the olive oil); and for heat add a dash or two of Sriracha or Thai Garlic-Chili Sauce.

Zestfully yours,

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