Waiting for green coriander—and keeping the pollinators happy
Tick Tick Ticktickticktick
A cluster of tiny green seeds rolls through my fingers into a plastic bowl.
“I think everyone really loves my green coriander pesto,” my big girl says as she strips seeds from the plants I’ve pulled. “Well, except for some of the kids. Because they’re picky.”
She’s been anticipating this moment since early spring when I began finding cilantro everywhere. We noticed the plants getting bigger and sending out feather, carrot-top like leaves. We watched bees buzz the tiny white flower clusters. And we found the first tiny green seeds. Now, some of the plants have gone from full flower to full seed.
To everything its season, and this is the season for green coriander.
Two years ago, I cooked with green coriander for the first time, making the green coriander–marinated chicken from Grow, Cook, Eat. Picking green coriander (and later the dried, brown seeds) became a summer afternoon activity with the kids asking if we could pull one more plant to strip. As long as everyone had their own plant and their own bowl, squabbles were minimal.
Last summer my big girl decided we should make pesto with the green coriander. We talked about the things that usually went into pesto and she picked what she wanted to put in. Here’s what she came up with:
K’s Green Coriander Pesto
1/2 cup green coriander (roughly seeds from 3–4 plants)
1 scant cup parsley leaves
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup olive oil
Two good squeezes of lemon juices
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup Romano cheese
- Run the green coriander, parsley, garlic, and walnuts in a food processor until smooth-ish. (The green coriander will still be a little pebbly, but all the seeds should be somewhat ground up.)
- Add the olive oil and lemon and whiz to combine.
- Stir in the cheeses.
- Taste and add more lemon juice or oil if needed.
This has a crunchier texture than most pesto. We love it on chicken and crackers. We’re less fond of it on pasta. I imagine that the bright green, citrusy flavor would be good with fish or shrimp.
My big girl was so excited to bring green coriander pesto chicken to a pot luck last night. If rosemary is the smell of jealousy, maybe green coriander is the smell of pride.
What are you creating with summer’s bounty these days?
My garden is a mess. The kind of mess where you can hardly find the things you planted. I spent the better part of Sunday working out there.
I turned over new beds and planted chard and more carrots. I tied up peas and tomatoes. I weeded and weeded and weeded. Spending time in my garden was a perfect way to spend my birthday. My back would tell you I worked outside all day, but it’s not really work.
I love gardening for the fresh cilantro I pick, wet with dew, for my breakfast burrito and for the golden cherry tomatoes warm from the sun (it’ll be a while, but they’re coming).
I love when my big girls says, “Can I make a salad for dinner?” and then collects and spins and chops (and eats!) it.
I love my peonies, heavy headed and drooping after the rain, and the feathery cosmos that settled in on their own and are starting to announce themselves.
But it’s not just what comes out of my garden. There’s something about the the planting and weeding and tying and checking, something about the process, that soothes me and refreshes me.
I came in Sunday, feet and hands black, face smeared with dirt. My back was tight, but my shoulders were loose. My garden is still a mess, but I wasn’t.
That evening my friend threw me an impromptu party with ribs and margaritas and for dessert the simple version of this cake and this ice cream, both of which I made because I love the rhythm of the kitchen (when it isn’t grumbly get dinner on the table time) as much as I love the rhythm of the garden.
Sunday I found more strawberries hanging like jewels under green leaves. I ate one and shared the rest with my girls. There’s spinach almost ready to pick again and the first tomatoes forming. And, I noticed with surprise and glee my garlic is beginning to get scapes, so I’m dreaming of pesto and pizza and lazy summer dinners. The garden is a lot of work, but it feels more like rhythm and dreams and rewards and hope.
What do you love doing so much it doesn’t feel like work?
When I flip through my pictures from the summer, I’ll remember picking blueberries, but I might forget how the five-year-old took charge of the three-year-old and two-year-old and how much easier it was in 2014 than it was in 2013. I’ll see it was sunny, but I might not remember how foggy and cool it was that morning when we set out through the hills and back roads. I might forget the singing of rounds that paced our work as we sorted and how I sang the songs over and over, teaching the girls and making up my own verses to “Hey Ho, Nobody Home” in the car until they begged me to stop. One of the reasons I write is to remember.
This is my picture, my story. What’s yours?
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It was a simple salad, but so satisfying.
There isn’t a whole lot going on in the garden, aside from the weeds that are ready to take over. A look at my garden journals suggests I’m always hopeful and waiting impatiently this time of year. I’m eager for anything to pick; my kids are too.
“What that red round thing?” my big girl asked, bending to show me. It was a radish—and there were more. We picked them, red, pink, and white. I looked around and realized that we had plenty of greens for a salad.
“And what about these?” K asked pointing to the purple chive flowers.
“Yes, we can eat those. And some johnny-jump-ups too.”
She picked flowers and some chives. Both girls helped spin the salad (a favorite kitchen helping job). E tore the lettuce, spinach, and mustard greens. And K asked to cut the radishes. I looked at the sharp knife. I looked at her. I handed her the knife, showed her how to place her hands, and watched. She sliced carefully, if not neatly. She tried a piece, and I was surprised she liked it. Maybe it will be a salad summer.
We tossed the greed, red, white, yellow, purple together in a wooden bowl—and served it with grilled steak, potatoes & onions, and asparagus (planting asparagus is still on my long-term garden to do list). I opened a bottle of wine from a friend, and the girls put johnny-jump-ups in their water. It was a lovely spring spread.
We’re on the verge of summer—a few more weeks before the official start, another week and a half before the end of school. I lose track of time around dinner, and bed time creeps later. We sat out at the picnic table last night in the late light. In my mind it was a glorious evening, though thinking back, it was kind of gray and the mosquitoes were starting to come out. Still we’re on the verge of summer, we were outside, and we were finally eating something from the garden.