Bright

You know when you’re at your grocer or farmers’ market and they’re practically giving away cilantro? This recipe is ideal for that time when this most scintillating herb is in abundant, fresh supply. It’s also perfect for using up leftover cilantro before it goes bad.

I know some people don’t like cilantro. And I know some of those people can’t even be teased for this timid culinary apostasy because they actually have a genetic predisposition against cilantro.

So this is not actually about cilantro flavor, but about amplifying the tomato fakery in Beetuto, and other no nightshade red sauces. When you really want that fresh-stewed tomato pop, a cube of Bright goes in towards the very end. No tomato sauce substitute will ever be a perfect facsimile, but bright can get you closer.

EQUIPMENT

  • food processor (if you’re making a small batch, a large one won’t help much)
  • ice cube trays

INGREDIENTS

  • cilantro
  • lemon juice

INSTRUCTIONS

1Before you mess up the bunch structure, slice off and discard (compost, preferably) the last half inch or so of stem. The less you lose the better, but you don’t want any wilt or harvest-cut end. Now cut away as much of the stems as you can. Don’t bother with a perfect demarcation between stems and leaves; it’s all going to be ground to pieces anyway. A quick one-third leaf, two-thirds stem chop is all that’s needed here.

2Clean the cilantro—both the leaves and the good stems, but keeping them separate. And I mean clean in both senses: rinse, and remove any less-than-fresh bits.

3Place the stems in the processor. Pulse until you’ve reached the point where the blade isn’t really doing any more work. Use a rubber spatula to push the cilantro back to the bottom of the processor. Add a little lemon juice and pulse to futility again. Repeat the spatula/splash of lemon juice procedure as needed until you have a smooth paste. You will probably make a mess the first time, but you’ll get better at it.

4Add the leaves and pulse a little longer. You want the leaves to be a little less broken up than the stem matter. Add lemon juice as needed to facilitate a smooth result.

5Spread into your ice cube trays and freeze right away. If you have the tray space, you might want to make some full, and some half full. Freeze, then transfer to an airtight container for maximum freezer life.

EXPLORING BRIGHT

In my experience, Bright works best best when added towards the very end of the cooking process. That’s because both parsley and lemon change considerably with the addition of heat. I use it sporadically with Beetuto, and in varying ammounts. That builds some variety into the nature of the sauce, which is certainly a defining characteristic of true tomato sauce.

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