Italian Salsa Verde {recipe} – The (God) Mother of All Sauces

Italian salsa verde

The culinary world needs to re-think the concept of the “mother sauces” …

And just consider Italian salsa verde “The (God) Mother of All Sauces.”

I know. I’ve said something along those lines before. Many times. And each time, I am positive that “this is the greatest sauce on the planet. Ever. Period. Forget what I said before about…” I said it about Green Goddess Dressing. Then Kale Walnut Pesto. And Momofuku’s Ginger Scallion Sauce. Fish sauce vinaigrette. More recently about Tahini Lemon Vinaigrette.

I know. I’ve said it before, but this time it’s different. This one really is the one.

This. Is. It.
Italian Salsa Verde - herb ingredients
Bright. Gorgeous. Aggressive. (And I’m not talking about the middle-aged Asian food blogger who made this sauce in her kitchen yesterday *ahem*.) Salsa Verde was meant to accompany a simple roast chicken (Jonathan Waxman’s recipe via New York Times, which I’ll share shortly), but I couldn’t help myself from taking increasingly bigger “tastes” of the stuff with a spoon right from the food processor before we even sat down for dinner. What little we had leftover transformed a bowl of plain quinoa into an amazing side dish the next night. With a few spoonfuls of water and lemon juice, salsa verde becomes a vinaigrette for salads and vegetables.

I don’t have to imagine how good it will taste with pan-fried tofu and buckwheat soba because I’m going to try it tomorrow.

I promise I won’t ever feel this way again. Maybe. Until I make homemade hot cock next week.
Italian Salsa Verde

Italian Salsa Verde

recipe update, May 2017: this recipe uses essentially 1¼ cups of a bunch of different fresh green herbs. I have made it with all different proportions and to be honest, my fav is almost all parsley, with about 2 tablespoons fresh basil to fill in the rest. Tarragon, sage, and rosemary are all just a little too unique in flavor to mix in here, and we all know how I feel about cilantro. 

adapted from a recipe to accompany Roast Chicken in chef Jonathan Waxman’s cookbook Italian, My Way
{via New York Times}

makes about 1 cup


1 tablespoon capers
2 anchovy fillets
2 cloves garlic (peeled, green germ removed)
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
¼ cup arugula, chopped
¼ cup basil leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon tarragon leaves
1 tablespoon fresh chives
1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped (whatever amount I used, it was too much. next time, I’m going to omit this altogether)
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
¼ teaspoon sea salt


Rinse capers in cold water, then drain.

Soak anchovies in cold water for 5 minutes, then pat dry and remove the bones.

Using a mortar and pestle (or a food processor), smash the capers, anchovies and garlic with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl.

Add all the herbs and start with about half the remaining olive oil to start, adding more olive oil until you get a chunky, not oily, texture. Season with sea salt.

Serve alongside roast chicken. Or with other roasted meats. Or with bread as a dip. Or mixed into quinoa. Or just eat it plain. Whatever.

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