Italian salsa verde comes from the Piedmont region of Italy where it is known as Bagnet verd. I have had it in my “to do” list ever since my next door neighbor, whose husband is Piedmontese from Turin, introduce me to it years ago. I was watching her mixing it in her mortar and pestle and was curious.
At the time I thought anchovies in a green sauce?? but never bothered to investigate the matter until recently. I was looking for something to use with fish dishes – specifically, I was about to cook a nice grouper filet and wanted a sauce to spoon over it. I was not disappointed in Italian salsa verde and very happy to add that sauce to my repertoire for fish dishes.
Back in the days when all we had were cook books, I used to get down as many from the shelf as I thought had a particular recipe and go through them, comparing ingredients. Oh, so easy now when all you have to do is google a recipe and you are rewarded with a cascade of them. Since I know Spanish, French, and Italian as well as English I usually check Italian sites for Italian dishes, and French sites for French dishes, etc.
So, what is the scoop about Italian salsa verde besides the fact that it is from the Piedmont region of Italy and has a history dating back to the middle ages? Basically, all the recipes I found from Italian language and English language sites had several ingredients in common.
The ingredients are parsley, anchovies, garlic, and capers besides olive oil and, perhaps, vinegar. Those seem to be universal. Some recipes add Dijon mustard, some add basil, and in Italy they add hard boiled egg yolk and bread crumbs, to thicken the sauce. I did not find that addition in any of the English language sites. The omission of vinegar is some recipes is because there is enough acid in capers. In Italy you can get salt cured capers. If so, salt is not required in the sauce.
So, with all that information from sources in Italy, and the English speaking world, what to do if I wanted to develop my own recipe?
As much as I love chimichurri from my native country, I definitely want to have something that is a bit different. I also want to have something that is as easy to make as my chimichurri salsa. My favorite Italian site suggested making the sauce early enough to allow at least two hours for the flavors to meld. So, I did that. I was happy with the flavor, but decided that, like the Italians, I would prefer to thicken the sauce, but I didn’t go so far as to add the hard boiled egg yolk, but I did add two tablespoons of fresh bread crumbs and thought it was perfect!
For those of you who would like to see an Italian site video of someone making salsa verde, click here
- 1 bunch organic flat-leaf parsley, stems removed
- 3 anchovies
- 1 tablespoons capers
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup organic extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons bread crumbs
Add all ingredients except the bread crumbs to a food processor and pulse until the mixture is fairly homogeneous but not a smooth, runny sauce. It needs to have a little character.
Remove from the food processor and add the bread crumbs. Stir. Allow to rest for a couple of hours to meld the flavors.
You can reserve sauce in a jar in the fridge for 1 week, or freeze for a future use.