This recipe comes from Charlie Durham, chef and owner of the Big Spoon food truck making its rounds of Seattle.

Share story

GREEN SAUCE is a simple, rustic condiment made with masses of fresh herbs. It holds universal appeal: The French call it Sauce Verte, the Italians call it Salsa Verde, the Argentineans have one they call Chimichurri. Each culture uses the herbs closest to its heart, giving us permission to search our gardens and farmers markets to create our very own green sauce, no matter the season.

Most recipes call for flat-leaf Italian parsley, which adds body, a bold freshness and a lot of green. The oldest recipes are Italian, and include raw garlic, capers and anchovies, and bread is used to create an emulsion to make a smooth sauce. Italian Salsa Verde is one of the accompaniments to Bollito Misto, a traditional dish of assorted boiled meats.

French versions usually call for soft, sweet herbs such as chervil and tarragon, and are often mixed with mayonnaise and served with poached fish, although very old recipes use bread instead. The mayonnaise version also makes a great sandwich spread or dressing for potato salad.

Chimichurri calls for oregano and cilantro, and is always left as a chunky vinaigrette. It can be used as a marinade for meat, but is most commonly served in generous portions alongside a selection of simply seasoned grilled meat and vegetables.

In the Northwest, we grow plenty of herbs, many of them even survive the winter. You can make interesting variations on the more traditional combinations using local favorites such as mint, sage, dill, marjoram or thyme. All green sauces include oil and some kind of acid, either lemon juice or vinegar. As a rule, lemon juice lends a subtler flavor, while vinegars add a heartier, more sour bite.

The potency of green sauces comes from using fresh herbs and chopping them well to release their flavor. Green sauces are never cooked — cooking would mellow the pungency that is their mission, as well as the bright green flavor for which they are named. However, if you want to include basil and you’re not going to use the sauce right away, you’ll need to blanch the leaves quickly before chopping, in order to keep the sauce from turning black.

The recipes might be different, but everyone seems to agree that you can use green sauce as a condiment on anything. Serve it alongside or drizzled over any simply seasoned protein or vegetable; use instead of traditional gremolata on braised meats; stir into a vegetable or bean soup, or hearty stew; or just serve with warm, crusty bread for dipping.

Sauce Verte

This recipe comes from Charlie Durham, chef and owner of the Big Spoon food truck making its rounds of Seattle, serving hot soups and stews. It’s an eclectic version, although he calls it by the French name — it’s vinaigrette-style, and the flavor is fresh, spicy and strong from raw garlic and chives. You’re sure to find a million ways to use it.

½ cup tarragon leaves

½ cup chervil (optional)

½ cup Italian parsley

3 cloves garlic

1 cup olive oil, canola oil, or a blend

½ cup finely chopped chives

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Salt and pepper

1. Put the tarragon, chervil (if using), parsley and garlic in the bowl of a food processor and chop to combine.

2. With the machine running, slowly drizzle in the oil.

3. Scrape the mixture into a bowl and add the chopped chives and lemon juice, and season to taste with salt and pepper. (If not using right away, cover tightly, pressing a piece of plastic wrap onto the surface, and refrigerate for up to three weeks. Let it come to room temperature before serving.)