Thursday, March 22, 2007

Cilantro Salsa Dip

People are always asking me, "How do you come up with your recipes?" When someone asks me this, I laugh, because most passionate cooks always have a huge pile of recipes they're planning to try someday. This recipe is one that had been on my pile for years, torn out of a magazine I've long forgotten the name of.

The recipe was from East Bay Crab and Grill in Egg Harbor, New Jersey. At the restaurant they serve it as an appetizer to dip up with hot, freshly-baked bread. (If anyone knows if the place is still there, or has tried this appetizer, please chime in with a comment.) I ate mine on toasted 100% whole wheat pita chips, and it was fantastic. Since there's a big football game coming up tomorrow and I'm wondering about what to take the the Denny Superbowl party, I thought about this recipe again and realized it definitely deserved to be a recipe favorite.

I've written about cilantro so many times for Weekend Herb Blogging, and it was even declared the favorite herb for the WHB One-Year Anniversary. I'm not sure what's left to say, except that people either love it or hate it, possibly due to genetics. If you're one of those who love it, this recipe's for you.

Cilantro Salsa Dip Recipe
(Makes about 2/3 - 1 cup, depending on how big your bunch of cilantro is. Recipe from East Bay Crab and Grill, slightly adapted by Kalyn.)

1 large bunch of cilantro, 4-6 oz.
2-3 green onions, cut into pieces
1 T red wine vinegar (or slightly more)
1 T fresh-squeezed lemon juice (or slightly more)
2 T olive oil (or slightly more)
2 T water
1 tsp. hot pepper sauce or more, to taste (I used Green Tabasco sauce)
salt to taste

Remove tough stems from cilantro. Rinse dilantro and drain but do not spin dry. In food processor with steel blade, pulse together cilantro and green onions until well chopped. Transfer mixture to small mixing bowl.

Stir in vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, water, hot pepper sauce, and salt. Taste for seasoning, and if using a large bunch of cilantro, add more seasonings as desired. Serve immediately with toasted pita chips, or refrigerate up to 2 days. (For non South Beach dieters, this can also be served with hot french bread or corn chips.)

Toasted Pita Chips:
Preheat oven to 400 F. Cut 100% whole wheat pita bread in half, then cut each half circle into three triangles. Mist with olive oil. Arrange in single layer on cookie sheet and toast in oven about 5 minutes per side, or until slightly crisped and barely starting to brown. (They quickly go from toasted to overly done, so watch them carefully and check often.) Pita chips don't keep well, so only make what you'll be eating.

South Beach Suggestions:

With 100% whole wheat pita, toasted or not, this is a perfect appetizer for phase 2 or 3 of the South Beach Diet. For those who love cilantro, I think this would also make a great sauce for fish or chicken, or would taste great stirred into bean salads, rice, or hummus.

More Cilantro Dips, Salsas, or Pestos
Cilantro Pesto Dip from 28 Cooks
Cilantro Pesto from Is It Edible?
Salsa Fresca from Bakingsheet
Fresh Cheese and Cilantro Dip from Chocolate and Zucchini
Cashew Curry Sauce or Dip from Je Mange la Ville
Eggplant Dip from Poco-Cocoacounter customizable free hit
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More to Chew On:


  1. I can't believe we really did something so similar on the same day!!

  2. I'm with you, Kalyn, I couldn't live without cilantro! Did I ever mention to you that my uncle in Austin, TX is on a mission to plant it all over the city? We call him Johnny Cilantroseed!

  3. Woo whee...I can't tell you how much I enjoy cilantro. Just looking at it and the ingredients, I think I will most definitely be loving this soon.

  4. I DO love cilantro, but find that too much in any given recipe tastes like soap! (and I know what soap tastes like as I had my mouth washed out with it several times as a child for saying naughty words!!!)Maybe it's just me?

  5. looking forward to trying this as I too LOVE cilantro!

  6. Hmm. I wrote this comment once but it didn't show up. So if it shows up later, don't think I'm crazy. I know that you other cilantro lovers out there will love this. I'm already thinking of variations on the theme. (Also wondering why it took me years and years to try the recipe!)

    FarmgirlCyn, there's some research showing it's a genetic trait in people who think cilantro tastes like soap, so you must have the anti-cilantro gene. (Laughing because I had my mouth washed out with soap a couple of times too!)

  7. It looks lovely, and from all the comments it will taste lovely.... but, I'm afraid I'm one of the genetically-challenged.
    I could try substituting flat-leaf parsley. I've got tons in my garden already. I'll let you know how it turns out!

  8. Looks fabulous! I may just have to try it the next time I do bake fresh bread.. a terrible terrible addiction I seem to be afflicted with.

  9. hi, i found a couple of nice recipes in useful information

  10. I love cilantro, and this dip sounds amazing!

  11. YUM! This dip looks like it is full of flavor, I am glad you tried it!! Now I want to!

  12. The picture looks so inviting, even if you didn't like cilantro you'd be tempted to forget that fact and try this! Really has a depth of color and nice arrangement.

  13. This recipe is on my must-try list! :D

  14. A cilantro dip? Oh, this has my number written all over it! Can't wait to try it!


  15. Although cilantro is not so common here, I´ll try it. Or I substitute with parsley as Katie does. It look so inviting. :)

  16. Kalyn,
    Wow this one looks like a 'kicked up' version of our own coriander chutney...would love to try your version soon and will report back ;)

  17. My husband and I just ate at East Bay and I LOVE this dip. The waitress rattled off the ingredients (which I almost immediately forgot!)so thanks for posting this! I can't wait to make it this weekend!

  18. How fun hearing from someone who's actually eaten it at the restaurant! Hope you like making it as much as I did.


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