Salsa verde, translated into English as the far less romantic sounding 'green sauce', is a versatile, punchy thick sauce that really peps up firm flavoursome fish or full-on meats sizzling from the heat. I haven't put it to the test, but I'm pretty sure that slathered on a flip flop it would make it entirely edible!
A lot of recipes deploy preserved anchovies, salted or in oil, but anchovies are my one food kryptonite so I add Dijon mustard for an extra dimension instead. Of course, feel free to go with the fishy little devils if you prefer. Also, the herbs you choose are a moveable feast and you can use more or less of everything here. We always have mint and parsley, nearly always deploy basil, and very often chuck in tarragon and/or thyme, but you can play with whatever is to hand or that you like most, and in quantities to suit.
The finely chopped capers and cornichons or gherkins, and the lemon juice, bring a lovely tang to the sauce that makes it a delight with salmon, tuna and other oily fish, and it goes beautifully with lamb from the oven or the barbecue, particularly chops with their crisp fat. We enjoy it very much indeed with halibut, hake and cod too, and I'm sure that other firm white fish will do deliciously. It's also gorgeous spooned over hot new potatoes in almost any context, not to mention with grilled Halloumi or roasted Mediterranean vegetables. There is enough here for four people to have a good dollop each, but it is the easiest thing in the world to increase the proportions of the ingredients to bulk it up if you have a lot of flip flops.
- A good handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp mint, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp basil, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp tarragon, finely chopped
- 1 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard (use 6 anchovy fillets very finely chopped instead if you prefer)
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped, crushed or minced (optional)
- 1 tbsp capers, finely chopped
- 4 cornichons or gherkins, finely chopped
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Juice of ½ a lemon. Cut the rest in to small wedges to serve if you like (white wine vinegar can be used here)
- Salt and ground black pepper
- Add the various chopped herbs to a bowl. Add the Dijon mustard or chopped anchovies and garlic if using, and mix well.
- Pour in a good glug of extra virgin olive oil and mix.
- Add the chopped gherkins, capers, and the lemon juice bit by bit, tasting as you go, and stir well again. Add more oil to loosen the sauce to your preferred consistency if necessary. Season with a little salt – be careful here as capers and anchovies, if you've used them, are salty – and a good grinding of black pepper.
- Just before serving give the sauce another good stir to bring it together and spoon it over your selected recipient – meat, fish or vegetable – and serve with a wedge of lemon.
Despite the big flavours of this sauce it's pretty amenable with wine. Look for freshness, juiciness and fruit and you can't go too far wrong, red or white. Take a cue from our Summer Drinking in Style offer (launching first week in August) and these cracking whites that will be a treat if you spoon the sauce over a good bit of fish. Seafood wine par excellence like The Society's Picpoul de Pinet and Pazo de Villarei Albariño, Rías Baixas are ideal, both comfortable with the tangy sauce. The grassy zing of Finca Lallana, Verdejo will pick up on the herbs and lemon, as will the citrusy herbaceous notes of Vasse Felix Classic Dry White. From Italy, the Soave Classico Castel Cerino, Coffele has lovely depth balanced with mineral freshness, and for a classic from Burgundy try the taut, mouthwatering Sylvain Pataille, Bourgogne Aligoté, a grape that is too little known but which in the right hands, and Sylvain Pataille's are the right hands, can be thrilling.