Salsa Verde

Green sauce Italian style. Bright, bold, punchy, this stuff is the quintessence of vibrant green goodness.

We're not fannying about sprinkling a few leaves of parsley on a piece of fish or tarting up a boiled spud with a sprig of mint, we're gathering great bunches, huge armfuls of herbs and making a fresh herb sauce that will knock your socks off.

Parsley is the backbone of salsa verde. Authentic Italian recipes call for flat leaved parsley. Flat leaved parsley seems to be the parsley of choice amongst celebrity chefs and food writers but I love curly parsley, use whichever you like it makes not the slightest difference.

Other herbs which can go into salsa verde are the soft leaved herbs like mint, basil, coriander (cilantro) and tarragon. Use whatever is abundant. I have an abundance of mint so my salsa verde is a parsley and mint affair. Woody herbs such as rosemary, sage and thyme are not suitable for salsa verde, instead throw them on your summer barbecue to scent your kebabs, or chop them up and mix them with garlic and olive oil for a marinade.

What else goes into salsa verde? Lemon juice or wine vinegar, capers and anchovies, Dijon mustard and extra virgin olive oil. Garlic can go in too if you like. Throw everything except the oil into a food processor and blend. Add the oil gradually through the funnel until your sauce is as thick or thin as you want it.

If you don't have a food processor then this will work with a stick blender and the tall, narrow beaker the blender came with. Failing a stick blender then a sharp knife and a chopping board will work but will of course take longer.

Salsa verde is excellent on plain grilled or baked fish. Try it also on a simple grilled chop or chicken breast. Spoon it over boiled new potatoes, stir it  into pasta or a dish of warm white beans. Nigel Slater says he dips chips into it and who can blame him?

Cannellini beans dressed with salsa verde
Pea Salsa Verde
If you have leftover peas as I did the other day then mash them roughly with a fork and mix with salsa verde. Toast some bread, rub it with garlic, drizzle with olive oil and pile the pea salsa on top. Actually, this is so delicious that you'd better not wait for leftover peas, there might never be any, just cook some especially and make yourself a pea bruschetta for lunch. It's green, gorgeous, and it's got to be good for you.

Pea Salsa Verde

Salsa Verde
Adapted from a recipe in Appetite by Nigel Slater

Makes a basinful

In the bowl of a food processor put the following
A big bunch of parsley
A big bunch of mint
By a big bunch I mean something about the size of a small lettuce, but don't get hung up on precise measurements or the zing will go out of your salsa verde and you don't want that.
1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon of capers
2-3 anchovies
juice of half a lemon
Process until you have a thick green sludge then add about 100ml of extra virgin olive oil through the funnel of the food processor. Go carefully as you don't want it too runny. You may need salt but it's unlikely with the salty anchovies and capers.



  1. It sounds delicious. I especially love the idea of it mixed into beans as above. Thanks for the recipe.

  2. Well I'll be making that one soon, for sure.

  3. Salsa verde is an absolute favourite of mine and I'm pinning your fabulous peas on toast idea NOW!!! I occasionally freeze any excess in ice cube trays - it's not quite the same as fresh but handy when a single portion is needed. :-)

  4. Yum! I'm with you Sue: i love the curly parsley as I think it has a stronger flavour and is more gutsy. I swear you can feel it doing you good instantly! x

  5. This looks delicious! And I also prefer the curly parsley - I think it's so funny the way things become "the best" - a bit of food snobbery, me thinks!
    Thank you for the recipes and your beautiful photographs.

  6. Oh wow, cannot wait to make this! Thanks Sue :) x

  7. YUM. I keep forgeting about salsa verde. This post will stick in my head. Many thanks.

  8. Wow, thank you for this. I keep meaning to try making salsa verde but this recipe has got me determined to do so. And boy does it look lovely on the beans. Deliciousness awaits.

  9. Sue, funny that I regularly use all those green herbs, and the woody ones, too, in making various of my pasta tossing sauces, but have never really made a true salsa verde.

    I might just visit the farmers market tomorrow, and bring back some green ingredients picked early tomorrow morning. Salsa verde might enter my kitchen repertoire. Thank you for focusing me in a slightly different direction.


  10. Love salsa verde, love Nigel (and his books!) but I must say I am firmly on the side of flat leaved parsley myself - long before the celebrity chefs got hold of it I discovered it has more flavour and a nicer .. er.. mouth feel ...than the curly variety - and harbours fewer wriggly things! Otherwise, yes, all this and more can go in. I am at the moment using up an excess of home-made wild garlic pesto so won't be making any for a fora while, but it is a great and versatile sauce for almost everything. Ah, bruschetta, we went through a spate of having this at every opportunity but then we stopped for some reason - you have prodded me - t'is almost summer-time, time for bruschetta!

  11. I'm absorbing the vitamins from here! Delicious stuff - thanks for reminding me about it.

  12. Yum! I think I'd like to come to your house for dinner please! I use a similar mix of herbs to make a green rice (Ottolenghi recipe I think). It is utterly delicious.

    1. Now that does sound like a good idea, thanks Gina.

  13. I've never made salsa verde but I want to now, thank you for the recipe. With peas on toast too, yum. x

  14. oh so green. as for the parsley, I like curly too, but as the flat stuff has self seeded all over my patio I have masses of the stuff, so would be a shame to waste it!


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