Thursday, June 7, 2012

Salsa Verde: Where've You Been All My Life?

The annual garlic progression has begun at the Farmers' Markets in Boston and Portsmouth, NH. Right now, it's the green garlic stage; soon to be followed by garlic scapes, and finally, garlic bulbs.

Each stage offer its own taste treat, and I'm always looking for new ideas that bring out the unique flavor. So when The New York Times food writer Melissa Clark featured a recipe for salsa verde this week in her column A Good Appetite, I was intrigued. I was also in luck, as my brother-in-law Dave had picked up a couple of bunches of the scallion-looking bulbs Saturday, at the Seacoast Growers market in Portsmouth. 

Clark describes the tastes of green garlic as "grassy and sweet" -- and I have to agree. At this point in the season, it has none of that pungent bitterness that some people complain about in mature garlic. (Garlic at any stage is all right by me.)

While Clark served her salsa verde over grilled pork, we were having sautéed wild caught New England flounder, which I'd purchased at Sanders Fish Market in Portsmouth. I figured the salsa verde would be a nice change from our usual preparation of lemon, parsley, and capers -- after all, two out of three were ingredients in the salsa verde.

Prior to this, I'd always thought of salsa verde  as the green tomatillo sauce you find Mexican cuisine. But there's a salsa verde--commonly made with parsley, mint, capers, and anchovies--that has an Italian heritage. This sauce, comes from that tradition, though since it has neither anchovies or nor capers, it's lighter and brighter in taste, with a beautiful green color. In fact, it was taste revelation -- so good, that Dave took the last bit drizzled on top of left-over rice and greens for lunch the next day, much to my disappointment!

No worries, though, I'm looking forward to making it again with grilled chicken or pork. But I'll have to hurry. Green garlic season doesn't last very long at all.

Salsa Verde al la Melissa Clark

• 1/4 cup chopped parsley (I recommend flat Italian parsley)
• 3 tablespoons chopped mint
• 2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic chives or regular chives
• 2 tablespoons finely chopped green garlic
• 1 tablespoon lemon juice
• 1 teaspoon kosher salt, more as needed
• 1/8 teaspoon chile flakes
• 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1. Combine the herbs, garlic, lemon, 1 teaspoon salt and chile flakes. Stir in 1/2 cup oil. (NOTE: I used only about 1/4 cup of oil, as I wanted my sauce to be more chunky.)