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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1 Comment

  1. Asparagus with gremolata, lemon, and olive oil « The captious vegetarian said,

    […] parsley, garlic, lemon (juice and zest) and olive oil in my mini food processor.  I guess I made a salsa verde more than a gremolata, except this version didn’t have any thickener so it was more liquidy. […]

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