Italian Salsa Verde

December 24, 2007 at 7:26 pm (Cook's Illustrated, Derek's faves, Italian, Quick weeknight recipe, Sauce/dressing, Spring recipes, unrated, Winter recipes)

Salsa Verde is a thick, Italian, pesto-like sauce, but with just a little more boldness due to the slight bitterness of parsley and the brininess of the capers and lemons. It’s delicious on many vegetables and grain dishes, or stirred into a winter soup. I like to use it on anything that needs a little zing. I particularly like it on grain croquettes and lightly steamed green beans. This is a Cook’s Illustrated recipe.

Toast until surface is dry but not browned (about 15 seconds?):

  • 1 large slice white or light wheat bread

Add bread to bowl of food processor with:

  • 1-2 small garlic cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. juice from 1 lemon

Process until smooth, about 10 seconds. Add:

  • 2 cups lightly packed fresh Italian parsley leaves, washed and dried thoroughly (about one large bunch?)
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained

Pulse until mixture is finely chopped, about five 1-second pulses, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula after 3 pulses. If your food processor is small you might need to add the parsley slowly. Transfer mixture to small bowl and serve.

Makes a generous 3/4 cup.

My Notes:

Lemon juice provides a brighter flavor than vinegar. The bread keeps the flavors from getting too harsh and gives the sauce body. The bread is toasted to get rid of execess moisture that could made the sauce gummy. You can use 3 cloves garlic if you don’t mind raging garlic breath. I’ve used only 4.5 Tbs olive oil and it was still good. The food processor helps achieve a uniform texture: if you chop the ingredients by hand it will be less cohesive.

Serve immediately for the best texture and color. Although it will not be as vibrantly green, it will last fine in the fridge in an airtight container for a while (maybe 5-7 days, need to check). If refrigerated, bring back to room temperature and stir to recombine before serving.

Using 1/3 cup olive oil, the nutritional stats are below.  Using the full 1/2 cup of oil would add another 25 calories per Tablespoon.

Update December 20th, 2009:

Derek rates this recipe an A-.  I added it to lightly steamed cauliflower and he rated the combination an A-/B+.  I liked it on the cauliflower, but I think I liked it even better with raw cauliflower, which contributes a great crispness to the dish.  I think raw cauliflower and salsa verde would make a nice appetizer.  I’m not sure how you’d serve it though.  On toothpicks?  Let people dip it themselves?  Cut the florets in half and make little cauliflower sandwiches?  Any ideas?

Serving Size: 1 Tablespoon
Amount Per Serving
Calories 64
Total Fat 6.2g
Saturated Fat 0.8g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 84mg
Carbohydrate 2.1g
Dietary Fiber 0.6g
Sugars 0.3g
Protein 0.7g
Vitamin A 17% Vitamin C 24%
Calcium    2% Iron 4%

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Greek-Style Garlic-Lemon Potatoes

December 24, 2007 at 7:18 pm (A (4 stars, love, favorite), Cook's Illustrated, Derek's faves, Root vegetables, Starches)

This is based on a recipe from Cook’s Illustrated. The addition of raw garlic and fresh oregano give these potatoes a full flavor with plenty of bite. This is a great recipe for late winter, when you’re desperate for something fresh tasting, but none of the springtime veggies have arrived yet. Read the rest of this entry »

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Five-Grain Croquettes

December 24, 2007 at 7:09 pm (B plus (3.5 stars, like a lot), Grains, Peter Berley)

Based on a recipe from Peter Berley’s The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen. These croquettes don’t have any herbs or spices, but they’re not at all bland. The sauteed vegetables remind me a bit of stuffing, but the croquettes have a fresh, simple flavor of their own.

Combine in a 3-quart saucepan over high heat:

  • 1/2 cup white rice (sushi or jasmine or arborio are all fine)
  • 2 Tbs. amaranth
  • 2 Tbs. teff
  • 2 Tbs. quinoa
  • 2 Tbs. millet
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2.5 cups water

Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, or until all of the water is absorbed. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

While the grains cook, warm in a medium skillet:

  • 2 Tbs olive oil (This amount can be reduced if you want.  You just need enough oil so that the vegetables brown.)

Add and cook on medium-low for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking:

  • 1 cup minced onion
  • 1/2 cup finely diced fresh or dried red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely diced celery
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly milled black pepper
  • 3/4 tsp. salt

Reduce the heat to low, cover, and continue cooking for 10 to 15 minutes, until the vegetables are very tender and slightly caramelized. You may need to add a tablespoon or two of water if they begin to burn. Lightly oil a large baking sheet (or two if you only have small sheets).

When the grains are done, add the vegetables to the grains and mix thoroughly. Set the mixture aside until it is cool enough to handle. If you’re in a hurry move it to a larger bowl or a tray for cooling.

Form the mixture into croquettes the size of golf balls. Place them 1 inch apart on the baking sheet and flatten slightly with the palm of your hand. Bake for 20 minutes.

Should make about 18-24? golf-ball sized croquettes, or if you prefer make 12-16? larger croquettes and fit them all on one tray.

Makes 4 main-dish servings if you have two sides.\

My notes:

If you don’t have amaranth, teff, quinoa, or millet, just substitute a little more of the other grains that you do have. I rarely have teff, so add extra amaranth, because I think it provides an excellent flavor to the croquettes.  Even when I do have all the grains, I sometimes add more amaranth because it’s so tasty.

Berley serves these croquettes with a carrot sauce, but his recipe wasn’t great. I like them by themselves, or with a potent salsa verde.

I’ve made this recipe many time with dehyrdrated red bell peppers from Penzey’s.  I just rehydrate them in some water before adding them in with the other veggies.  I think I might even like the dehydrated peppers more than the fresh ones in this dish.  Since the dried peppers are so tasty, sundried tomatoes might be a nice addition as well.

Every time I make this recipe I love it, but no one else seems very excited about them.  Derek will eat them, but only grudgingly.  My sister Hanaleah didn’t care for them.  I don’t know why I’m such an outlier.  Is it that no one else likes the taste of amaranth?

Rating: B+ (I would actually give this recipe an A- if anyone else actually liked it)

Derek: B-/C

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Broiled Portabella Mushrooms

December 24, 2007 at 7:04 pm (Miso, Moosewood, Quick weeknight recipe, unrated, Vegetable dishes) ()

This recipe is from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites. I made it many years ago and Derek has never forgotten it.  He occasionally suggests I make it again, and I’m finally getting around to it. Moosewood suggests serving the mushrooms over a bed of wilted spinach or other greens. Read the rest of this entry »

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