I started working on this recipe a few months back. I can’t remember how or why, but somehow I stumbled across a recipe for a “Tropical Smoothie” on the Kitchn, with what seemed at the time like an absurd amount of cilantro. As a committed cilantro fanatic, I knew I had to try it. Once I did, though, it just wasn’t exactly where I wanted it to be. I wanted a drink that went down easily and tasted strongly of that pungent green herb, but the recipe as written — while very pleasant — just wasn’t setting off all my tastebuds’ bells and whistles.
I worked on my version off and on, subbing in one thing here, another there, and it seemed like I was getting closer and closer, but I couldn’t quite get over the hump. And then this past week I was home sick with a fever, and suddenly all I wanted in the whole wide world was a cool, refreshing cilantro smoothie. So I pulled on my boots and tramped out through the snow, bought some absurd amount of cilantro and other ingredients, and put myself on lockdown with a blender.
I’m not going to say that this smoothie broke my fever — let’s be real here — but it certainly made me feel better as I binge-watched six hours of Netflix. And at the end of it, through a combination of doggedness and sheer dumb luck, I finally hit the mark. The doggedness was simple repetition: I probably drank a gallon of smoothie in a day. The luck was all about you, dear reader: I was struggling to get the color temperature temperature the photos right for your viewing delectation, and while I was fiddling with camera settings I blended the initial mixture way longer than at first seemed reasonable. That happy accident solved my lingering textural problem. You see, the problem with including a large amount of stems and leaves in a smoothie is that, if you’re not careful, you end up with a blender jar full of stem-and-leaf pulp. Sure, I could strain it, but I’m making a smoothie here, not a fancy restaurant sauce. This really is a case where letting the machine do the work solves problems.
So: I’m glad to let you learn from my trial and error. I know it seems counter-intuitive, but right now — while much of the country is frozen solid — I suggest you fight ice with ice and have a smoothie. It might not cure fevers (though then again it might), but it definitely salves the dreary winter blues.
Inspired by Michaela Cisney’s “Tropical Smoothie” at The Kitchn
1 c pineapple chunks, canned or very ripe fresh
1 c orange juice
1/2 c coconut milk
1 c cilantro leaves and stems (tear roughly, then pack lightly to measure; don’t overthink it)
2 c ice
Combine all ingredients except ice in blender (put the cilantro on top). Blend on high speed until mixture is a homogenous light green, a few minutes; cilantro flecks should be tiny if at all visible.
Add ice and blend until smooth.
Extreme texturephobes: the extensive initial blending mostly takes care of the cilantro, especially after it’s blended with the ice. If you’re very averse to pulpy textures, though, especially if you choose to forego the ice (see below), you may enjoy this passed through a fine mesh strainer, especially if your blender doesn’t go up to 11, figuratively speaking.
Not in the mood for a cold-cold smoothie? Omit the ice and have, essentially, a very thick juice.
Vary proportions if you like; this works for my tastebuds, but it’s your palate!