Garden Abundance: Cilantro & Parsley Pesto đŸŒ±

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In my garden, I am often both excited to see the growth in our rows and simultaneously daunted by the task of figuring out what to do with the abundance of any given single crop.

My children sell and deliver our harvests around the neighborhood, along with our yard eggs, as part of their homeschool math / life school curriculum. Otherwise, I experiment with different recipes that can be frozen or canned.

The one I’m sharing today is a quick and easy pesto recipe that involves two popular herbs: cilantro and parsley.

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Parsley

Native to the Mediterranean, parsley was originally a plant that required a tropical climate to thrive.  The rooted form of parsley that we all likely have in our gardens, was cultivated around 300 years ago in Germany.  Its nutritional profile includes vitamin C, potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and sodium, as well as vitamin A, K, and E, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, iron, and zinc.  Parsley is a source of antioxidants, supports kidney function, reduces water retention, has anti-inflammatory properties, can decrease insulin resistance, and strengthens the immune system. [1]

My personal relationship to parsley includes being a weird little kid who always enjoyed eating the garnish off of family members’ plates at restaurants.  I’m not sure if this was a form of attention-seeking as the youngest of three or if I really loved the taste, but regardless, my palate has been enjoying parsley as long as I can remember.

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Cilantro

Rich in phytonutrients, flavonoids and phenolic compounds, cilantro also contains fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K (which aids production of Vitamin D), folate,  calcium, iron, potassium, and magnesium.  Research suggests it can lower both cholesterol and blood pressure, and support cardiovascular function. [2]

Cilantro can mobilize heavy metals in tissues, like arsenic, cadmium, aluminum, lead and mercury.  Some have mixed feelings about this herb and its role with metals, suggesting it mobilizes metals better than it helps eliminate them from the body, thus risking metal redistribution in tissues and other organs.  My personal opinion is that if I am not eating cup-fulls at a time, but rather enjoying cilantro occasionally as part of my healthy diet, I am not concerned about mobilizing metals in my body.  But do your own homework and ask your own physician if this concerns you in any way, as I am not a medical professional.

Cilantro protects cells from oxidative stress, can calm nerves and help promote quality sleep, lower blood sugar levels, and can help prevent urinary tract infections.  Coriander, the seed of cilantro, can even help treat acute UTI symptoms.  Cilantro also has antimicrobial properties that can help protect the human body from food poisoning, dysentery, salmonella, cholera, and listeria.  It also is known to help reduce neurological inflammation. [3]

Do you love the taste of cilantro or hate it?

WAB.jpgThere are two types of people in this world: those who like Neil Diamond and those who don’t.”  ~ Bill Murray as Bob Wiley in the 1991 movie What About Bob?  

I have always found it interesting how some people love cilantro while others think it tastes terrible.  Turns out there is a scientific reason for this.  According to the journal Nature, there are two genetic variants that are linked to the way we perceive the herb.  Another reason why some like cilantro and others don’t is because of the way it is prepared. Food science writer Harold McGee suggested in a 2010 column in the New York Times that crushing cilantro would speed up the breakdown of the specific plant enzymes responsible for the smell and taste that turns most people off of this healing herb. [4] Which brings us to our recipe.


Easy Make-Ahead Cilantro Parsley Pesto

pesto cubes

After harvesting, washing and de-stemming my parsley and cilantro, I combine the following in my food processor (I used a Vitamix).

1 clove of pressed garlic
3 cups of fresh cilantro leaves
3 cups of fresh parsley leaves
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil*
Salt & Pepper to Taste

*If you want to dive deeper, read more about the well-documented therapeutic health benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil in this article on Dr. Terry Wahls, M.D.’s website.  Dr. Wahls is a pioneer who uses food for healing autoimmune conditions, and I highly recommend checking out her books if you are struggling with your health!

Pulse herbs, garlic, salt, and pepper until well-chopped.  While the processor continues to run, add the extra virgin olive oil little by little until well-combined.

Spoon the pesto into an ice cube tray and place in the freezer until frozen.  I’ve found this is a great way to repurpose the old ice cube trays we used to make baby food when my kids were small.

When the cubes are solid, transfer them to an air tight container or bag in the freezer and thaw as needed. I like to thaw my cubes and stir them into something like zucchini noodles after they are lightly cooked.

If you keep your pesto in the refrigerator, it will last around 2 days.

Enjoy and let me know if you try it!

đŸŒ±

With spring around the corner, I’m coming out of hibernation too and shifting my gears from little rituals to now sharing DIY projects and urban homesteading activities.  I find projects like these often surface alongside this natural season of growth and inspiration.

Are you feeling a shift in energy this spring? I invite you to play with these projects and recipes and see if they bring you any personal joy or community building opportunities!

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