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On Your Mark, Get Set: Spice It Up with Cilantro!

2011 July 19

By Mandy Ruest


Several years ago, I was introduced to a fresh Mexican garnish, known as pico de gallo. I had eaten salsas before but there was something about this one that kept me coming back for more. Pico de gallo is often made with fresh cilantro and come to find out, I absolutely LOVE cilantro!  As someone who mostly follows a vegan diet, I am constantly looking for exciting ways to redo veggies and cilantro is my new thing.  So, when Sarah passed me her Zucchini & Kohlrabi Salad recipe and I saw it had cilantro in it, I was inspired to use my own freshly grown, organic cilantro.

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I have been somewhat of an “experimental gardener” over the past few years. Basically, my method is: plant stuff and see what happens.  This year, I was lucky to be given a system of indoor grow lights so I got to start my experiments in the early spring.  I was also given seedling trays and was able to start 480 plants!  I knew that was a ridiculous amount for a small garden, but how could I just leave the trays empty with all that opportunity for potential growth experiments?!  I filled each tray with organic compost and lots of random organic seeds, many of which I saved from last year’s harvest, including 300-year-old heirloom tomatoes from Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth, NH; I was very careful not to kill those.  Most everything survived the transfer to the garden, although I mixed up the tomato plants and won’t know which ones are the heirlooms until they fruit; this is actually the real reason my garden usually ends up experimental!

When I was considering what recipe to make, I toured my garden to find further inspiration; after all, the most local you can get is your own backyard.  Although it is too early in the season for most of the garden to be harvested, it is the principle of it that this recipe will (eventually) come from my yard!  It has been hot in NH this week too, so I also want to relay Sarah’s “no-cook route” and use as many of my own fruits and vegetables that I can.

Check back on Thursday to find out what’s growing and what’s not cooking with my cilantro!

Mandy Ruest is a mental health counselor turning sustainability consultant with Green Irene. You can visit her website at You can also find her on the Board of her town Conservation Commission, and knee-deep in her garden with all her random plants.

  • Stephanie

    Great to hear about your gardening adventures, Mandy. We have restarted our southwest NH garden this year after several years off, including a pot of cilantro which we also love! Deer got two of our cabbage plants (boo!) but we too look forward to a dish made completely from our gardening efforts. Can’t wait to see what you come up with on Thursday.

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