One sauce that fits all

Posted on: 4th June, 2014

Category: A Flavour of West Cork

Contributor: Karen Austin

People often think of salsa as a hot and spicy sauce but salsa verde, which means green sauce, is different. It’s a zippy and fragrant sauce without any chilli, made with the soft summer herbs that are popping up everywhere.

Herbs are the business when it comes to perking salads and sauces up. The fresh lively flavours brighten many dishes. The mint, chives and oregano are back up in our garden after their long winter sleep and the basil, parsley and coriander that we set this spring are ready to go.

We’ve been enjoying salsa verde drizzled over grilled asparagus. It’s equally as delicious with grilled fish, meats, haulomi cheese and all sorts of vegetables, which makes it perfect for summer barbeques. It’s a kind of one-sauce-fits-all.

I make it with whatever combination of herbs I have at hand, sometimes chopping and sometimes buzzing the herbs depending on what I have in mind. Buzzing gives a bright green mayonnaise looking sauce – looks pretty funky, and the chopped version is gentler on the eye and can be made without any gadgets.

The recipe is quite loose and omissions and substitutions can be made. The olive oil and lemon juice are constant but the herbs can be swopped about .The anchovies do the usual trick of flavor enhancer and aren’t visible in a fishy way and the capers up the acidity and give the sauce a lift. They’re optional but I recommend giving them a go.

Here’s one of my versions….


Salsa Verde


Juice of 1 lemon

1dsp capers

6 anchovies

1-2 cloves garlic

1tsp Dijon mustard

1 handful basil

1 handful mint

1 handful parsley

150 – 200mls extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper



To make the sauce with a blender put the mustard, anchovies, capers, lemon juice and garlic into the jug and slowly drizzle the olive oil in whilst buzzing.

Roughly chop the herbs, put them into the blender jug and buzz until smooth. Taste and check the seasoning. It will need a little salt if you have omitted the anchovies and capers but may not need any if you have used them.

To make the sauce by hand whisk the lemon juice and olive oil together then whisk in the olive oil.

Put the herbs, garlic, capers and anchovies onto the chopping board and chop until you have a neat little pile. Stir into the dressing and check the seasoning as above.

The sauce will keep for a few days in an airtight container in the fridge but as always best eaten immediately.

We’re taking a break from the cooking classes for the summer but we’re open for business as usual if you fancy picking up a picnic

Here’s wishing for sunshine.

Enjoy June!

22 Connolly Street, Clonakilty, Co.Cork. Open Tuesday-Saturday 10am-6pm.

PS Salsa Verde is also pretty good for dipping with tortilla chips!

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