What’s in a name? From Europe to Mexico and South America, green herb-based condiments are all variations on a theme, regardless if they’re called chimichurri, salsa verde, pistou or gremolata.
All the variations start with green herbs (often parsley), olive oil, salt and usually some acidity. Each region adds an individual twist, such as garlic, capers, chilli, mustard or even anchovies.
Finding your favourite herb combo will make you look like a star in the kitchen, transforming the plainest veggie, meat or fish dish into a star! It’s perfect on baked potatoes instead of dairy. Whatever version you make, it only takes five minutes to create. Fresh herbs are essential, but the rest is up to you and can be varied with what you have on hand.
Green herb sauce
2 cups of fresh green herbs, rinsed and excess water removed (if in doubt start with a bunch of parsley but coriander, basil and/or oregano are often included depending on the cuisine)
1 (or more) cloves, garlic
½ cup olive oil
Juice of one lemon or 1 – 2 tabs of your best vinegar
Pinch of sea salt
Optional ingredients (just start with adding one, not the whole lot!)
- 2 tsp capers, drained
- 1 – 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 – 2 anchovies
- Green or red chilli
- Lemon zest
Give your herbs a quick blitz in a food processor (or use a mortar and pestle if you’re up for some hard work). Add half of the olive oil and other ingredients. Start with less, not more, so you can adjust to taste. Drizzle in the remaining oil until you get your desired consistency. With a lot of herbs, its’ best to use the pulse function and scrape the sides down in between. You might prefer a thicker condiment to spoon onto your plate or a thinner, smoother pouring sauce. Take notes so that when you’ve found your perfect version, you can just dump all the ingredients in the food processor and blend.
Covered with a thin layer of oil and stored in an air tight jar in the fridge, most green sauces can last for a couple of weeks though the colour may become less vibrant. It can also be frozen.
While many of these sauces are traditionally used as a condiment for red meat, my introduction to chimichurri was at the famous San Francisco restaurant, Greens. Chimichurri was served over tofu and vegetable (straight from their organic farm – the best baby potatoes I’ve ever eaten) skewers. Take a look at this version, complete with video.