Friday, July 9, 2010

Isabel's Cilantro Sauce

I can garnish my heart out and still not get through a whole bunch of cilantro before it starts spoiling. Pesky cilantro and its short shelf life! I find myself composting bunches far more often than such a flavorful herb deserves. But since discovering this zesty and delicious cilantro sauce (which uses a substantial half cup of the stuff) I no longer have an excuse to be such a wastrel.

The recipe comes from a cookbook called Isabel's Cantina that I bought as a souvenir when I moved away from San Diego. The author wrote the recipes for the restaurant where I used to work, and while my motivations for purchase were sentimental, the book has become quite practical in the kitchen.

I altered Isabel's recipe a little by doubling the garlic and using a mellower apple cider vinegar in place of the red wine vinegar she calls for. The sauce turned out SO good this way, rich yet bright and spicy all at once.

I drizzled the sauce around a plate of brown rice, black beans and cheese with some fresh cherry tomatoes for a meal of exactly ten ingredients. Totally Killer.

Isabel's 4-Ingredient Cilantro Sauce
Total Kitchen Time: 5 minutes. Makes 1 cup.

1/2 cup packed cilantro leaves
2 garlic cloves, grated
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Free Spice Blend
1/4 tsp. salt

Combine all ingredients and salt in a food processor or blender and puree until mostly smooth.


  1. what kind of cheese do you use?

  2. This is simple Monterey Jack cheese grated from a block. It's what I had around!

  3. Yum, this cilantro sauce sounds kind of Cuban, but I guess it did come from a Latin Foods Cookbook. So that makes sense (smile). Yummerz!

  4. this sounds so delicious! Have you (or anyone who's made it) tried to freeze it at all? How does it do?

  5. I haven't tried freezing it, but I expect it would freeze well. I know you can freeze pesto without the cheese, and this is of somewhat similar ingredients and texture. :)

  6. About your cilantro going bad before you can use it all. Cilantro is a plant and cant be stored in one of those plastic bags you get from the produce department. For years I've been using a mason jar from a store bought spaghetti sauce. When you get home from the store fill 1/4 way with tap water and place the whole bouquet of cilantro in it. It will thrive in the fridge afterall it is a plant. Mine last up to 2 months per bunch, if I dont use it first. I mostly use cilantro for tikka masala its excellent. Oh and guest will ask you "what is that" and when you tell them they will say "wow what a great idea why didnt i think of that". Happens all the time. It loolks cool and its just so functional.