A Bounty of Summer Garden Herbs

Italian Salsa Verde 

SAGE Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

One of my favorite uses for summer’s bounty of home-grown herbs is an Italian-style Salsa Verde.  A traditional Italian use of this emerald-colored sauce is to enliven boiled meats (bollito misto) however our preference for fair-weather cooking is the grill.  We find a spoonful of Salsa Verde  complements seafood, chicken,  pork and even steak.  I often set aside some to use as a cooking sauce over halibut or salmon filets and serve the rest as a table condiment.

 For summer parties we often prepare a “mixed grill” of protein sources and vegetables and serve them on big platters along with a big bowl of Salsa Verde and maybe another sauce or two. 

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

Of course there are many variations of the recipe and lots of room to customize it to your preferences and what’s in your garden.You can make it with all parsley, as I’ve seen in the Piemontese and Milanese versions of Salsa Verde in Italian Regional Cooking by Ada Boni but I like it with a combination of herbs, in this case parsley, basil and sage.  

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

 Italian Salsa Verde

 1 cup Italian parsley leaves

1 cup basil leaves

3 to 4 tablespoons fresh sage leaves

1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs, toasted (remove crust before making crumbs)

2 tablespoons drained capers

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 canned, drained anchovies

1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 clove garlic*

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 to 3 tablespoons water (optional)

Pinch of salt, optional

 Combine parsley, basil, sage, bread crumbs, capers, lemon juice, anchovies and mustard in bowl of food processor; whirl until blended. With motor running, slowly poor oil through feed tube. Process until smooth.  Thin with a little water (or water used for simmering garlic).  Taste and adjust seasonings to your preference.  Chill for an hour or so before serving to allow flavors to meld.  Makes about  3/4 cup sauce.

 *For milder flavor simmer the garlic clove in 15 to 30 seconds in a small amount of boiling water (microwave works well), drain.

 Variation:  Instead of sage, try fresh mint, marjoram or oregano.  Use a little less or more of these assertive herbs, depending on their variety and strength.

Copyright © Lorelle S Del Matto 2011

lorelle About lorelle

Crazy about cooking, eating and sharing good food – my work and leisure revolve around the kitchen. As a culinary dietitian my professional life encompasses nutrition counseling and education, recipe development, product development, food and nutrition writing, marketing communications, corporate test kitchen and consumer affairs management, food styling and work as a product spokesperson.


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