I love cilantro for many reasons, not the least of which are its sweet, citrus-y, wine-y dried fruits that make the spice we call coriander. So, this winter, I planted tons of cilantro, and now I have fields of coriander to harvest. I use coriander in lots of ways; it adds a bright note to curries, it spices up the grapefruit bitters I made this winter, it adds complexity to the pickled garlic I put up last week, and it intensifies roasted tomatoes (a la Orangette, an oft-used recipe, I tell ya). But this year, I have more coriander seed than ever before, and I'm starting to explore some options I've never considered. I've read about coriander lemon jelly and coriander-orange bread, coriander gelato and coriander cookies. I already have several cups of dry coriander harvested, so I have plenty to use in a variety of applications. What are some of your favorite ways to use coriander?
Fresh fennel flowers taste like root beer barrel candies to me—yum. I've been grazing on some of the flowers, leaving plenty of seed to ripen for harvest later in the summer. Unlike my husband, I'm a fennel lover, and especially love fennel seed in tomato sauces. In fact, when I can't think of anything else to make, more often than not, I toss a chopped onion in some olive oil to begin to brown, add a generous shake of fennel seed, some hot pepper flakes, and plenty of minced garlic to cook just until super-fragrant. I stir in a generous spoonful of homemade tomato paste, then add a can of tomatoes. I let this cook down, spike it with some vodka, swirl in a smidge of cream, salt to taste, and man, it never disappoints when tossed with good pasta. Even ECG loves this dish. And with pork, fennel seed sings opera. But I want more ways to use it rather than just making my Italian food delicious. How do other cultures use fennel seed? Guide me, o wise readers.
Nigella Seed (aka kalonji, black cumin, etc)
Just like when learning a new word, when learning a new spice, one finds it popping up in unexpected corners. Before growing it, I knew that nigella showed up frequently in Indian food, but I didn't expect it in the string cheese from the deli at our neighborhood ethnic market (and when I say ethnic, I pretty much mean all ethnicities—groceries here range from Panamanian to Bulgarian to Lebanese to Thai to Peruvian and everything in between). Labeled "regular flavor," the cheese with the nigella has a nutty, earthy, slightly cumin-like taste. I've gathered over a cup of nigella already, and I still have lots of harvest to go. I plan to use the nigella seeds sprinkled on homemade naan and in other baked goods; how do you imagine it put to use?
If you would like to see what others are harvesting this time of year, head on over to Daphne's Dandelions for her Harvest Monday roundup.