This South American Sauce Adds Zest to Peninsula Plates

in Featured/Food/Headline

I never thought of spring as a “sauce-y” season until I discovered chimichurri last year. Now, I know, I know, I’m very late to the game on this one. I don’t know why, but I always thought this uber-fresh, vibrant green condiment was fiery hot, and that’s not really my thing. Turns out, not only is it not hot, but it’s fresh and garlicky, which is definitely my thing.

A Uruguayan sauce traditionally made of parsley, olive oil and garlic, chimichurri is zesty, bright and full of flavor. Its most common plate-fellow is steak, but this is an incredibly versatile sauce. Like that little old lady in the 1990s A.1. steak sauce commercial said, you can put that $ !#*% on anything.

So now that I’m officially in love, I’ve decided I need a go-to recipe, a staple for my new life as a chimichurri enthusiast. Naturally there are tons on the internet, but when I set out to write this month’s column, I didn’t just want any recipe, I wanted the best.

So I reached out to one of our city’s culinary stalwarts, Chef Manuel Martinez of LV Mar and La Viga Seafood & Cocina. He is known for his artistic mastery of Latin American cuisine, so it only made sense to go to him.

Thankfully for all of us, he is as generous as he is talented, and he provided not just one chimichurri recipe but two: a traditional version and his own, kicked-up take. So get ready to start chopping, mincing and blending, because you’re going to want to have these on hand all spring and summer.

Chef Manuel Martinez’s Chimichurri Recipe

Yields: About 1 cup

As Chef Martinez explains it, everyone has his or her own chimichurri recipe, and everyone thinks theirs is the best. Martinez kicks his up with the likes of jalapeño juice, capers, and crushed chili peppers. The result is a chimichurri as refreshing as the traditional but with added nuances of heat and body. Blending in the food processor also makes for a smoother texture, more like a salsa verde, and the olive/canola oil blend keeps the sauce smooth in the refrigerator.

Ingredients:

1 bunch of parsley

4 garlic cloves

4 Tablespoon jalapeño juice

1 Tablespoon capers

1 cup of canola oil

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

2-3 green onion stalks. (Chef Martinez says to use the whole thing: Green tops will give a nice color and body to the sauce and the white provides onion flavor)

Fresh lime juice from 1/2 of a lime

1-2 sprigs of oregano, or 1/2 tsp of dried

Note: If you want more spice add a chili serrano. If making the sauce in the summer the pepper will be at peak spiciness, so add ½ of the pepper. In the spring and winter the pepper won’t be as hot, so you can add the whole pepper, if you want.

Directions:

Place all of the ingredients, except the oils, in the blender or food processor and make a purée.

Once pureed, keep the blender or food processor running and slowly pour in the oils.

 

Traditional Chimichurri Recipe by Chef Manuel Martinez

Yields: About 1 cup

Ingredients:

1 bunch of parsley, coarsely chopped

4 garlic cloves, crushed or minced

4 Tablespoon red wine vinegar

3/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Either with a knife or food processor, chop the parsley and garlic. Transfer to a medium-sized bowl and the remaining ingredients, mixing well. Let stand for 20 minutes before serving, but it can also be made the night before and refrigerated. If you do make it ahead of time, bring the chimichurri to room temperature before serving.

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