Mint and cilantro: Powerful flavors, vibrant colors |

Mint and cilantro: Powerful flavors, vibrant colors

They grow in your gardens. Many stare at them and don’t know what to do with them, but they serve many purposes and give your dishes a great highlight.

They were introduced to me as a child because my mother makes an amazing albondiga soup with seasonal vegetables. Albondiga is a meatball soup with ground chicken, beef or pork. The ground meat is mixed with white rice, mint, cilantro and an egg to bind it all together. You have a floral flavor from the cilantro, the refreshing mint and a punch of heat.

For a chutney that can give any dish a great end, mix cilantro, mint and jalapenos in a blender with a touch of water and lime to create a combination that was meant to be married at first sight. Cilantro can go into any salsa, as mint can with the right combinations. Then all you need to know is how much to add and when it’s too much.

Here are a few recipes for you to start with, and then you will certainly start creating your own.

Mint Cilantro Chutney

1 cup cilantro (including stems)

¼ cup mint (no stems)

1 each jalapeno, rough chopped

2 each garlic cloves, rough chopped

1 each lime, juiced

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Place all ingredients in a blender for about 3-4 minutes until well-blended.

Albondiga Soup

1 pound ground beef

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon coriander

1 teaspoon paprika

2 garlic cloves, minced

7 mint leaves, chopped

1 egg

¼ cup basmati rice, cooked

1 tablespoon salt

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Form desired size meatballs. Set aside.

½ yellow onion, sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 carrots, peeled and sliced

1 celery stalk, sliced

2 tablespoons ginger, minced

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 lime, zest and juice

2 quarts chicken stock

1 cilantro bunch, chopped

3 roma tomatoes, diced

3 tablespoon olive oil

In a stock pot, place oil over medium heat with onion, garlic, ginger, carrots and celery. Cook and stir for 10 minutes. Add tomato paste, lime zest, juice and chicken stock, and lower heat to low medium, cooking for 20 minutes. Add meatballs, cilantro and tomatoes and cook for another 10 minutes. Serve with shaved cabbage.

Susie Jimenez was the runner-up from season 7 of “Food Network Star” and owns a local catering company. She can be reached at

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