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DH hates cilantro, cucumbers and bell peppers. Substitutions?

Just got a new cookbook from Cuisine at Home and most of the recipes sound delicious EXCEPT 90% of them call for either cilantro, cucumbers or bell peppers. DH is fun to cook for since he's appreciative of all efforts but I'm finding that more and more new modern recipes call one or more of the above ingredients. I've substituted flat leaf parsley in the past for cilantro but the dishes seem to be kind of flat. As for cucumbers and bell peppers I try to leave them out but most of these new recipes need something in the way of bulk and/or flavor. Any suggestions?

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  1. diced onions, scallions and celery will give you some crunch. If you are feeling the dish is underseasoned, garlic, salt and pepper (black or mild chile pepper,) lemon or lime, or fresh herbs like basil or dill can pick up the flavor.

    Would your guy eat mild chile fresh chile peppers in lieu of the bell peppers? Or roasted peppers?

    1. How about tomatoes or eggplant for peppers?

      1. I think the parsley sub for the cilantro is great, and I agree with the suggestion of adding some lemon or lime juice to sparkle it up a bit.

        If the peppers are raw in a recipe, try jicama, as the flavor is not overpowering, though it has a little kick to it, and it's VERY crunchy. Also, radishes might work in some recipes.

        If the peppers are in a cooked recipe, I personally would just add extra tomatoes or stewed tomatoes, to make up the difference. They have similar consistencies when cooked.

        Hope that helps! :) www.EatRealGood.com

        1. I have an unfortunate allergy to cilantro/corriander. Someone here at Chow recommended that I use celery leaves in place of cilantro and I think it works great.

          1. Thanks everyone. What wonderful ideas you've offered. My guy will eat mild chiles, just can't handle the bell peppers (any color). I haven't tried the roasted red peppers since I just assumed they'd taste like bell peppers.

            3 Replies
            1. re: HBGigi

              I have a food sensitivity to bell peppers (any color, roasted or not) as well. It runs in my family, too. My dad and my uncle have the same sensitivity. They double me over in pain with the smallest amount so I avoid them like the plague; not easy to do these days. I substitute yellow chili peppers - clean them really well and they won't be spicy.

              My husband doesn't like cilantro either so I agree completely with the celery leaves / parsley / lime juice substitutions. And the jicama sounds like a great sub for cucumber as well. Yum!

              1. re: Jen76

                Huh, I thought I was the only one with the bell pepper thing. For me they are fine raw, but cooked they double me over in pain too. Weirdest thing. I can eat the spiciest stuff in the world but not a cooked pepper - ridiculous. But nice to know I'm not alone.

                1. re: LulusMom

                  My mother is doubled over in pain from ANY bell-peppers, raw or cooked. So you're not the only one! We always just left them out of the recipe and most things turn out fine. Use some tomato if you want the red colour. DH has also developed an intolerance to them in the last year - they violently upset his normal digestive process.

            2. Zucchini for cucumber. I am assuming it's a digestive issue with the cukes and bell peppers? If so, the long English "seedless" cucumbers are advertised as "burpless". They are thinner-skinned and have miniscule seeds. Carrots don't taste like bell peppers but do have bulk, crunch, and sweetness.

              I am one of the cilantro-loathing minority - as well as anything remotely licorice-tasting, all the way from parsley to fennel. There's a thread on CH about cilantro tasting like soap to many people. I hold out hope that the cilantro-centric trend will eventually run its course.

              1 Reply
              1. re: greygarious

                I used to hate cukes and find them somewhat nauseating, but Ive found if I salted them and squeezed the water out, the problem went away. You mibht want to try this mild pickling process to see it it helps any.

              2. Depending on the recipe, zucchini or chayote might be suitable substitutes for the cucumber.

                1. As a fellow bell pepper hater, I can tell you that roasting them doesn't help. They still taste like bell peppers and their flavor pollutes everything they touch. I would recommend subbing poblanos--they're almost the same size and texture. Cilantro is tough--maybe half parsley, half mint with a dash of lime? I've also seen suggestions to use epazote, but it can be hard to come by and mostly available dried. I second jicama or zucchini depending on how you're using the cukes. Snow peas have a similar snap and sweet crunch when eaten raw.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: LisaPA

                    I agree with you completely on the bell peppers. Snow peas are a good idea as well!

                  2. I dislike celery and have found fennel to be an interesting substitute in many instances; perhaps you can use it instead of the cucumber.

                    Green bell peppers are nasty, bitter things to me, but I find I can tolerate red ones without too many ill-wished toward the cook. Perhaps The Husband could try the other bells?

                    1. I'm married so I can't substitute for your DH. As for the cilantro, I assume he doesn't like the taste, but why doesn't he like bell peppers or cucumbers? If it's taste, you should know that roasted red peppers are nothing like raw red pepper - when they are roasted they get amazingly sweet with just a touch of acidity, a very rich taste. And if its a problem digesting the skin of the pepper, you should know that when you roast the peppers you peel the skin afterwards - just stick them in a covered container or plastic or paper bag and the steam separates the skin from the pepper. And YOU really should tried roasted peppers yourself: A great and versatile dish and ingredient.