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salsa verde (a classic Italian green sauce)

salsa verde - a delicious green sauceGreen sauce, you make my heart sing!  It has to be one of THE easiest and healthy sauces one can make.  But wait!  What is a green sauce, you ask?   If you have tried chimichurri, pesto, sauce vert or Mexican salsa verde you’ve tasted a green sauce.  Salsa verde is a rustic sauce that can be used on practically everything from vegetables to meat and fish or used as a dip.  The traditional green sauce your nonna makes most likely consists of flat-leaf parsley, breadcrumbs soaked in red wine vinegar, capers, garlic, anchovy fillets, and olive oil.

Recipes for Italian salsa verde may have changed over time but they all stem from the book, Science in the Kitchen and The Art of Eating Well, by Pellegrino Artusi published in 1891.  Pellegrino Artusi is considered ‘the father of Italian cuisine‘.  His book has become the reference point for the average Italian household.   According to Italy Magazine, writing only two decades after the unification of Italy, Artusi was the first to include recipes from all the different regions of Italy in a single cookbook. He is often credited with establishing a truly national Italian cuisine for the first time.  Artusi’s recipe says to squeeze brine out of the capers and use a mezzaluna to finely chop together with an anchovy, a little onion, and little garlic.  Mash mixture with a knife blade to make into a fine paste.  Add this to a gravy dish.  Add a fair amount of parsley chopped with a few basil leaves.  Blend everything with fine olive oil and lemon juice.  This sauce goes well with boiled chicken, cold fish, hard-boiled or poached eggs.

The sauce I am about to share with you partially incorporates Artusi’s simple ingredients and I would like to think if he were around today he might enjoy the addition of mustard.

large handful or two of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced and made into a paste
3 to 4 anchovy fillets, chopped and mashed into a paste
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon capers, chopped
olive oil

In a bowl stir to combine all ingredients except olive oil.  Drizzle oil over and mix.  Some like the sauce to be thick, some like a pourable consistency.  Adjust oil amounts and ingredients according to your palate.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  This sauce is lovely as a dip using fresh bread or crudités.  Chopping with a sharp knife will produce chunky bits of the sauce which I find quite pleasing.  You can, however, use a food processor but it won’t be as rustic.  Enjoy!

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