Green sauce, Salsa Verde…..
There are moments in everyone’s kitchen life that strike the eureka chord in the brain and unravel or reveal a whole new set of possibilities and ideas. There is the moment you work out that you’ve been cooking your Yorkshire puddings too hot, the combining of spices to create a mix that ticks all the boxes, the perfect rise on a loaf of bread – but then there are the flavour discoveries and green sauce, or Salsa Verde if you prefer is one of THOSE moments.
But it is not really a recipe, it is much more of a feeling. I have tried to give a seasonal version below with all the useful things like suggested quantities but this is one of those dressings / sauces / dips / marinades that kind of defies pinning down, as soon as you think you have it sussed something shifts and changes and you are lost again, but that is the point. Green sauce is all about what herbs you have to hand, what sort of vinegar you are using at the moment, your preferred mustard…… It is also about what you are going to serve it with – for smoked meats you want it punchy on the mustard, for delicately flavoured pan fried bass fillets you are going to want it to be lighter, still bold and brash but less mustard, more herb, more caper and, easy on the garlic.
If you have not made green sauce before you may find yourself sticking it on everything for a few weeks – that’s fine, it’s a very gregarious dressing, but after the initial enthusiasm wears off you will find more interesting and periodical places to use it best.
I often make it when I have bought lots of herbs for a certain recipe and want to use the rest up, or when I have a glut in the garden- it keeps very well in the fridge with a light layer of olive oil over the top in a jar for around 3 or 4 days – but it is at its pungent and fresh best around 20 minutes after mixing.
3 stems of mint
4 stems of basil
2 stems of tarragon
8 stems of parsley
2 stems of marjoram
1 clove of garlic
1 teaspoon of capers (Or 2 teaspoons of chopped nasturtium leaf)
1 dessert spoon full of French mustard
Salt and pepper
1 table spoon of cider vinegar
Lots of good olive oil
2 anchovy fillets (Optional)
Wash, dry, de stem and finely chop your herbs. Very finely chop the garlic and pop it in a mixing bowl. Add the mustard, a good glug of oil and the vinegar. Chop the capers and add these.
Mix this all together to make a dressing and then add the chopped herbs to make a thick, but oily mixture. You can add a chopped anchovy or two if you like, I very often do.
Stir, season, add a little more oil if needs be and for goodness sake taste it. Adjust seasoning, add more herbs if you need to, get the feel for the thing. Later in the autumn I will add the soft tips from thyme and rosemary herbs as well, the mint will fade out of the mix, and the seasons turn. You will find you can make a version with almost any green herbs but Coriander and Sage are very tricky customers and for the most part not at all welcome at this particular party.