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Author Notes: A sharp and zingy sauce that goes well with grilled fish, boiled beef, or roast lamb, salsa verde is also known as "bagnet vert" in Piedmont, where it originated. Toss a tablespoons of it through some freshly steamed or boiled new potatoes, or use it to turn a cheap, simple sandwich into a dish worth remembering.
In traditional salsa verde recipes from Piedmont, **many add fresh breadcrumbs, soaked in red wine vinegar, and even egg yolk or a whole boiled egg to thicken it**. Probably one of the most important things to know is that *salted* capers and anchovies—the ones that are conserved in salt rather than pickled (for the capers) or oil-packed (for the anchovies)—are ideal here.
They are superior in flavor and texture, even though they require a tiny bit of extra preparation: Salt-packed capers and anchovies should be rinsed of any excess salt and soaked for a short time in water before using; soaked, salt-packed anchovies will also need to have their spines pulled out—once they're soaked, they should be a little more pliable and it will be easy. Start from the tail end and split the anchovy lengthways to reveal the spine, which can then be pulled out. (All this being said, if you can only find oil-packed anchovies, that's just fine, too.)
The recipe below is inspired by Pellegrino Artusi's recipe from 1891. —Emiko
Makes 1 cup of sauce
- 2 heaped tablespoons salt-packed capers
- 1 salt-packed anchovy fillet (or 2 anchovies preserved in oil)
- 1 garlic clove
- 3 1/2 ounces (100 grams or 1 bunch) flat-leaf parsley
- 10 basil leaves
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup (60 milliliters) extra-virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper, to taste
- If using salt-packed capers and anchovies (which is highly recommended), first rinse the excess salt off them, then place in a bowl of fresh water to soak for about 15 minutes. Remove and drain on paper towels. The anchovy will need to have the spine removed: Starting from the tail end, split the anchovy in two lengthways and pull out the spine. You will now have two fillets.
- Blend the anchovies, garlic, herbs, capers, and lemon juice together thoroughly with a food processor or immersion blender (or chop together with a large kitchen knife or mezzaluna). Add enough olive oil until you have a smooth, paste-like consistency. Taste for seasoning (important, as the salt-packed capers and anchovies will already be quite salty) and add any salt and freshly cracked pepper as needed. Store in a jar in the fridge if not using right away. It will keep well for a week.
- This recipe is a Community Pick!