Here's the thing about cilantro: I love love love to use it, but I can never seem to use all of it before it turns brown and scary. I can't help but buy it though! It just smells so delicious.
This week I'll show you how to use up your entire bunch of cilantro, as well as the rest of the groceries you buy! All of the meals are planned around 7 stellar (and tried and true!) recipes that use cilantro in creative ways with a lot of variety in taste. Feel free to arrange the recipes in any order, but I'll let you know which is great for a busy day, and which one to use if you have a little more free time. If you're not into cooking every night for a week straight, there will be an option to remove one of the recipes (and its accompanying ingredients) for a night off! So treat yourself to that new restaurant you've been wanting to try or even just a frozen dinner... no judgement here (I used my free night to shamelessly gorge on McDonald's fries in my car sooo you can't really get worse than that my friends).
Now let's break down each recipe - why it's delicious, my secrets to making it cheaper or faster, etc. The recipes are also in the order in which I would [generally] make them, but feel free to be your own person (but it's not recommended).
Cilantro Lime Crockpot Chicken Tacos - recipe found here
Save this recipe for a day when you'll get home late or be super busy! It took me 5 whole minutes to prep the crockpot, and 15 minutes after work before dinner was on the table. I cheat the recipe a little and skip out on the jalapenos and taco seasoning (but feel free to use them!) and just use a really flavorful, delicious salsa to season the chicken. Fry the corn tortillas in canola oil (I forgot this on the grocery list.... but you have it, right?) and shape them into taco shells. Additionally, cut the leftover tortillas into 6 triangle pieces (just slice them as a stack for speed!) and fry up your homemade chips for nacho night. Serve tacos with guac (use 1 avocado, a little cilantro, and lime) and enjoy!
Pesto Pasta with Dried Cherries - recipe for pesto found here
I love cilantro pesto! No offense to basil or anything, but cilantro is cheaper and more versatile. I really love the step by step instructions that this recipe has. Feel free to substitute out the almonds for walnuts or pine nuts - they all work just fine! I also use parmesan cheese because it's more versatile for other recipes later in the week. Tip: Cut this recipe in half. It makes plenty of pesto for the recipes this week.
As for the pasta, cook your desired amount and add pesto (saving enough pesto for the flatbread later in the week!) and dried cherries. I also chop and caramelize the yellow onion and put that in with the pasta - it's delicious! Feel free to add grilled chicken or shrimp, but you don't need to - this pasta can stand on its own.
Oven Baked Nachos - recipe below
I'm a little (lot) obsessed with Cafe Rio nachos. If you've never had them before you should probably stop reading and get in your car right now. They're ADDICTIVE. I use the leftover crockpot shredded chicken (or pork!) to make these nachos "dinner worthy" for my husband. Men like their meat, and I like my melted (and slightly burnt) cheese - mmmmmm. Take a 8x8 baking dish and fill it with your homemade chips (see crockpot recipe paragraph), then smother them with leftover chicken. Add shredded colby jack cheese on top. Put the oven on low broil and insert the dish. Now prepare yourself to go to nacho heaven. Keep a close eye on the cheese, it will melt quickly! Don't leave the room or nod off. Usually mine are cooked within 5 minutes. Top the nachos with fresh guac or other toppings of your choice! Devour the top layer, and add more cheese and repeat melting process if need be.
Not only do I love Bobby Flay and everything he has to offer this world, but his pizza dough is the best I've tried. So many doughs have disappointed me in the past, but this one is so easy to whip up in the Kitchenaid! It does need to rise though, so make sure you make it a day ahead or on a day when you have extra time. The dough will yield 2 servings (one for now and one for pesto flatbread! wahoo!). Also, make extra BBQ chicken and set some aside for the quesadillas you'll make later in the week.
Parmesan Crusted Chicken and Pasta - recipe found here
This chicken is super quick and easy, and can easily be served with leftover (or fresh) pasta as well as any vegetables you may have lying around.
Pesto Flatbread - recipe below
For this recipe, all you have to do is roll out your previously made pizza dough, spread the pesto, and add mozzarella! You can also add grilled chicken or leftover caramelized onions. Bake at 350 for 12-17 minutes (depending on your altitude).
Grilled BBQ Chicken Quesadillas - recipe below
I have to credit my mom, Jill, for introducing me to my absolute favorite quesadilla. If you've got a grill, you'll want to pull it out! Otherwise, you can make these on a griddle or stove top. These quesadillas can be made with flour or corn tortillas, it's really up to your preference. If you don't mind adding another item to your grocery list, I'd opt for the flour tortillas. Hopefully you saved extra BBQ chicken from your pizza, and can easily cut that up. Lay out your tortillas and spread BBQ sauce across half of the tortilla with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle chicken, colby jack or mozzarella, leftover red onion, and cilantro. Fold the tortilla closed and grill with butter. Serve fresh and enjoy!
** side note: You will probably have extra lettuce this week so feel free to use the leftover to make a salad for lunch or create a wrap!
Alright, you are now equipped to be a cilantro master chef! Leave comments below with any questions and let me know how your experiences go :)