Although all parts of the cilantro plant are edible, recipes that call for the herb refer to its leaves. Eat the leaves raw or cooked for their flavor and antioxidants. Unless a recipe instructs you to do otherwise, add freshly-chopped cilantro after a dish finishes cooking or shortly before you remove it from the oven. Heat reduces the flavor of cilantro, but if you keep cooking time to a minimum, the leaves will still provide a rich taste.
Twirl the cilantro around in a bowl of cold water and allow it to soak for about 10 minutes. This removes any dirt, which will sink to the bottom of the bowl while the leaves float to the top. Repeat the process in a bowl of clean water if the leaves still contain dirt or debris.
Lay the leaves in a single layer on a paper towel and blot the exposed side of the leaves with another paper towel. Continue blotting to dry them thoroughly before cutting.
Pile the dry leaves on a cutting board.
Push the sharp broad edge of a chef’s knife down into the pile and lift the knife back up. Continue this motion across the pile, cutting from left to right and top to bottom, until the leaves reduce to small pieces.
Rinse and dry the leaves as you would if you were chopping them.
Place the leaves in a small glass dish, such as a glass measuring cup.
Snip the leaves with quick, short cutting motions, using the tips of your kitchen scissors. Continue snipping through the leaves until they become tiny, uniform pieces.
- Utah State University Cooperative Extension; "Cilantro"; Amanda Horrocks; 2011
- Yuma County Cooperative Extension; "Cilantro"; Kurt Nolte
- "Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book"; Jennifer Dorland Darling, et al.; 1996