The old hand chop. (SALSA VERDE)

January 26, 2011

Fresh herbs are such a huge part of cooking that I deem the lesson of hand-chopping a valuable one. Herbs should be sliced, not mangled. They should not be wet nor heavy and should not be bleeding into a sad puddle of green. The key to this task is a sharp knife and a confident cut. I impart this lesson via video in the initial steps of a recipe for briny, herbaceous Salsa Verde in the Italian style. Boosting the flavor are anchovies, capers, dijon as opposed  to a Mexican or South American variety which would have tomatillos, jalapeños, cilantro providing the verde.

Sure, all of the ingredients could go into a food processor and get pulverized into a delicious sauce but that would be cheating. When I include this classic Salsa on the menu for my D.I.Y. Brunch class, I use it as a shining example of slow cooking and the perfect dish to get students’ herb chopping skills in order. Properly chopped, the ingredients retain a fine texture and truly come alive on the palate. Accompanied by the salty, vinegary seasoning, it is a beautiful balancing act.

At Brunch we layer the Salsa onto bagels with cream cheese accompanied by pickled onions, smoked salmon and cucumbers but it is also delicious sauced onto seared or grilled meat and fish or as a dip/dressing for fresh veggies. Though a bit more tedious than loading up the food processor, the fine hand chopping makes a huge difference in the final product. This recipe is always a standout. Each time I ask around, all participants agree that it is worth the extra muscular effort.


1 clove garlic, peeled and grated

3 tablespoons capers, finely chopped

5-6 anchovy filets, finely chopped

2 cups fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped

1 cup fresh basil leaves, finely chopped

1 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1/2 cup extra virgin live oil

salt and pepper

• Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl except for the olive oil. Give everything one very good chop together so items are combined and very fine.
• Place the mixture back in the bowl and stir in the olive oil until desired consistency.
• Season with salt and pepper and balance the flavors with more vinegar or oil as needed.

Salsa Verde on sliced ribeye with Pounded Cauliflower. It could have been nice stirred into the cauliflower too. Ah! Decisions, decisions…..

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