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|
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|
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
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.