Cilantro

This herb is essential to many Texas cooking traditions.

Cilantro
CilantroTodd Coleman

With its pungent aroma, the herb known as cilantro is essential to many Texas cooking traditions. Salsas wouldn't be salsas without the bright flavor of the finely chopped leaves, which, in the case of the cooked salsas, must be added after the main ingredients cool, since heat breaks down the flavor of the delicate leaves. But that doesn't mean you can't use cilantro in soups, stews, and the like, as the recipe for slow-simmered pinto beans proves. For long-cooked dishes, you just have to use the whole sprigs, including the stems, whose flavor mellows but doesn't recede during cooking.