Today: A sauce in spring green that goes with everything from asparagus to salmon to Easter hams and lambs (and the perfect place to put those leftover hard-boiled eggs).
We know that eggs are the secret to giving our favorite sauces their character: the cold whip in your mayo, the hot gloss in your hollandaise.
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Both have a home in spring, but eat too much of either one and you won't be up for a dewy stroll in the park; you'll be going back to bed.
Here is a way to give a spring sauce substance, and eat it immodestly. And it requires none of the technique or precision of egg's other guises. If you can boil an egg, you can make this sauce.
The trick is to pare down. First, take the egg out of the equation to punch up the sauce -- make it briny, make it grassy -- then add it back in at the end for texture and blips of cool, clean flavor.
To that end is green sauce -- the American answer to salsa verde or sauce verte -- from the Silver Palate Good Times cookbook, tucked away as one of four sauces for asparagus. It needs to be broken out and celebrated, under a spotlight of balmy, new April sunshine, attended by armies of just-born green vegetables. It deserves its own chapter, or maybe its own book.
"It just seemed to shout spring to naturally combine a little bit of a classic French green sauce (gribiche with the eggs) with a little bit of an Italian (salsa verde with capers and anchovies) into a lovely little green sauce. It just tastes like that new green of spring to me," Silver Palate cofounder Julee Rosso explained. "I’m afraid we were taking a bit of poetic license long before 'fusion'."
Green sauce is also a good place to take advantage of a kitty of leftover hard-cooked eggs -- because there's only so much you can devil, salad, and mimosa.
And it's made in the food processor, start to finish, in the time it would take you to watch half an episode of Mad Men. It will taste so much more refined and alive than something that came out of a machine has a right to, it might make you angry. But mostly happy. Watch:
Make some hard-cooked eggs however you like to do that. We put them in cool water, brought them up to a simmer, then shut off the heat for 12 minutes, the Virginia Willis way. But if you want to gently boil them for 10 instead, that's fine too.
Cool them, peel them, chop them up.
Take your greens -- parsley, dill, scallions -- for a spin in the food processor, until they make a fine, fragrant mulch. You could use a blender instead, or try something manual with a knife and mortar or whisk, but I like the easy way.
Add anchovies, garlic, capers, and lemon, and mulch some more.
Ease in olive oil while the blade whirs on, and you'll get a brighter, more buoyant and mayonnaise-like sauce than your average salsa verde or pesto.
Finally, stir in your chopped eggs -- if you want to do this by pulsing one last time in the food processor, I can't stop you (I couldn't stop myself) but know that if you do so for more than half a breath, you won't end up with neatly diced bits suspended in smooth green cream, but something more clotted.
Make a huge batch on Easter. Set it out on the table with your lamb or ham. The next day, spoon it over poached salmon. Bundle boiled new potatoes all up in it, then take them to work with you. Pool it on top of grilled chicken, or shrimp, or steak. Dunk spears of blanched asparagus. And radishes. And fennel.
There's almost nothing you will cook for dinner this season (or the next) that you won't want to cover in green sauce.
Got a genius recipe to share -- from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected]. Thanks to Merrill Stubbs (and her mother!) for this one!
Photos by James Ransom
The Genius Desserts cookbook is here! With more than 100 of the most beloved and talked-about desserts of our time (and the hidden gems soon to join their ranks) this book will make you a local legend, and a smarter baker to boot.
I'm an ex-economist, ex-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."