Italian Salsa Verde

By Ann Fulton

Vibrantly green and bursting with flavor, this classic sauce can be spooned over beef, chicken, fish, roasted vegetables, and rice – or use as a dip for crusty bread.
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Vibrantly green and bursting with flavor, this classic sauce can be spooned over beef, chicken, fish, eggs, roasted vegetables, and rice – or use as a dip for crusty bread. 

 

How many times do you buy a bunch of herbs, only to use a handful of the sprigs while the rest slowly wilt in your crisper drawer?

This sauce began as a way to avoid that waste. And while I first fell in love with it as a sauce for Pan-Seared Lamb Chops and beef, over the years, my family and I have found countless other ways to enjoy it. 

Most recently, my younger son has been requesting Roasted Potato Bites on repeat, and he spoons this versatile sauce overtop. I’ve been on a veggie-loaded egg scramble kick lately and have been topping with the Italian salsa verde.

Stay tuned for another family favorite dinner recipe coming soon (so quick and easy), and more suggestions as to how to use this versatile sauce further down the page. And a video!  

 
Vibrantly green and bursting with flavor, this classic sauce can be spooned over beef, chicken, fish, roasted vegetables, and rice – or use as a dip for crusty bread.

What does Italian salsa verde taste like?

The taste of Italian salsa verde is delightfully herby, but the primary takeaway is amplified flavor and added moisture. In other words, you can reach for the versatile condiment anytime something basic, from veggies to meats and grains, could benefit from more flavor or moisture. So many possibilities!  

A word of advice: Do not fear the anchovies. Though they may be omitted, they add salty deliciousness and a burst of umami to the sauce. And I kid you not, those who strongly dislike anchovies have gone back for spoonful after spoonful of this flavorful sauce. 

What’s the difference between Italian salsa verde and Mexican salsa verde?

Salsa verde means green sauce in both languages, however, the base ingredients are altogether different. Italian salsa verde is an herb-based sauce that is similar to pesto but traditionally made with parsley instead of basil. Mexican salsa verde has a consistency much like that of red salsa but is made with tomatillos instead of tomatoes.

Is Italian salsa verde the same as chimichurri? 

Italian salsa verde is similar to chimichurri, which is found in Argentinian and Uruguayan cuisines. Both sauces are parsley based, but chimichurri includes oregano and lacks the briny ingredients that  deliver a stronger punch of flavor in the Italian sauce.

Both sauces are also traditionally quite oily. I like to make my sauce thicker, so while you will notice some natural olive oil separation, most of the flavor and a bulk of the actual sauce consists of the other ingredients. 

How to use Italian Salsa Verde:

  • Enjoy as a sauce for meats of all kinds–steak, chicken, fish, shrimp, and pork
  • Drizzle over eggs
  • Or stir into veggie-packed egg scrambles and omelets 
  • Use as a sandwich spread (as is, or mixed into mayonnaise)
  • Enjoy as a dip for roasted potatoes or mash into baked potatoes
  • Swirl into polenta…
  • …or mashed potatoes
  • Use as a dip for crusty bread
  • Or as pasta sauce! Top with a handful of halved cherry tomatoes for added color
  • For a mayo-free potato salad, roast or boil potatoes as you normally would and then use the salsa verde as the dressing
  • You could do the same with pasta salad–and you could even mix equal parts mayo and Italian salsa verde for a potato or pasta salad that’s creamy and herby
  • Think of all the ways you enjoy pesto, and consider this a worthy alternative! 
Vibrantly green and bursting with flavor, this classic sauce can be spooned over beef, chicken, fish, eggs, roasted vegetables, and rice, and so much more

A traditional condiment used in Italian cuisine, salsa verde—or “green sauce”—consists of parsley, anchovies, vinegar, garlic, olive oil, and a few other flavor-packed pantry staples.

Vibrantly green and bursting with flavor, this classic sauce can be spooned over beef, chicken, fish, eggs, roasted vegetables, and rice, and so much more

A quick blitz in a food processor and it’s done. Flat leaf and curly parsley both work well. Typically, I use one or the other, but in this case, I happened to have some of each, so I mixed them.

Vibrantly green and bursting with flavor, this classic sauce can be spooned over beef, chicken, fish, eggs, roasted vegetables, and rice, and so much more

The color is beautiful and will hold up well for several weeks in the fridge. Before using, simply let the salsa verde sit on the counter for a few minutes to take the chill off, and then stir before using.

A simple spice rub and a quick sear is all that's needed to turn wholesome fish into a family favorite meal. Enjoy with a squeeze of lemon or with a sauce of choice!

Italian Salsa Verde is a natural with basic fish…which will suddenly taste restaurant worthy!

Quick to cook and loaded with flavor, lamb chops offer welcome variety to the weekly meal rotation. When cooked this way, they're sure to become a family favorite. Easy to make for any number of diners, too!

If lamb chops aren’t a regular for you, I highly recommend this easy recipe for Pan Seared Lamb Chops. While delicious on their own, the salsa verde adds restaurant-worthy appeal – and will taste great with everything on this plate!

Vibrantly green and bursting with flavor, this classic sauce can be spooned over beef, chicken, fish, roasted vegetables, and rice – or use as a dip for crusty bread.Italian salsa verde is a zingy, herb-packed sauce that you’ll want to put on everything! 

A fun nutrition fact from our dietitian Emily:
Anchovies may have a bit of an ick-factor, but once you get past that you’ll never look back! This oil-packed cheap pantry staple will melt into your sauces to make a perfect salty umami. And just like other oily fish, they are a source of Omega-3 fatty acids.

Fresh anchovies do exist (and are not high in sodium like it’s tinned cousin) but they are not commonly found in markets. If monitoring sodium intake, fresh fish like salmon may be an easier find for your Omega-3’s!

For those who are curious…
The reason we don’t list nutritional breakdowns next to each recipe is because the numbers can change significantly depending on brands people buy and how exact the measuring is. In saying that, if you email me separately, I can provide you with my best estimations on the nutrients you would like to know more about in this recipe. I’m happy to help! 

Italian Salsa Verde
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Yield: a scant cup
Vibrantly green and packed with flavor, this classic sauce can be spooned over meat, fish, vegetables, eggs, or rice – or use as a dip for crusty bread.
Ingredients
  • 2 cups lightly packed fresh parsley (curly or flat leaf), stems removed and roughly chopped (~2 ounces)
  • ½ cup (112 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons (27g) rinsed and drained capers
  • 4 anchovy fillets*
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) red wine vinegar (could substitute freshly squeezed lemon juice)
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Kosher salt
Instructions

Starting with the parsley, place all the ingredients except the salt in the bowl of a food processor and blend to a uniform consistency but not a puree, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Mix in salt to taste. (I add a level ¼ teaspoon of kosher salt.)

The sauce will keep, covered and refrigerated, for two weeks or more if using fresh parsley. Allow to sit at room temperature (the olive oil firms up when chilled) and stir before serving.

Notes

*You may use fewer anchovies or up to two more – or skip altogether – but they do add excellent flavor that’s not at all fishy. When blended, they also provide an element of emulsification to the sauce. If not using, you will likely wish to add more salt (or start with a little less salt if going heavy on the anchovies).

Prefer a smaller batch? The recipe can easily be halved. In this case, it helps to have a mini processor or chopper, as the smaller amount may not be enough to fully catch in the blade of a standard processor.

Prefer a larger batch? This recipe doubles well too.

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