Listen to the applause circle the globe as I am FINALLY posting the recipe for the Green Machine Salsa Verde. This recipe starting making the rounds with the Fajita Pot Lucky two years ago and has appeared in various iterations ever since, most recently at the All American BBQ Pot Lucky. Requested on the reg, I found when trying to share the recipe that I had continually been reinventing the ratios and ingredients. This is finally the definitive formula which I tested again just this week for another Pot Lucky, to be posted very soon.
The Green Machine, while technically a Salsa Verde that can be used on its own in the traditional green sauce way, is so named because it’s a workhorse. Check out the laundry list of possibilities below. I’m not suggesting you try all these things at once – that’s for professionals, kids! – but this fajita above has the Salsa Verde as a marinade for both chicken and veg; it’s mixed with sour cream for the grand dollop, and it’s kicking up the guacamole. Try any one or two at a time, but pace it out.
What is Salsa Verde?
Unless you are living under a rock, you have no doubt come across this delicious dazzler. Every country has its own version: Italy has pesto, but also a parsley-based verde with capers and anchovies; Mexico’s includes cilantro and chilis; in various Asian countries you will find green curries; and of course, Argentina’s famous chimichurri is chockablock with parsley. The name chimichurri came with the arrival of the Basques in the late 19th century and their word tximitxurri, meaning a mixture of things in no particular order. This, too, is a sort of no rules recipe!
The recipe featured here is Mexican-based. Lots of cilantro, roasted chilis, tomatillos and lime juice. I used Hatch chilis, which are just starting to come into the market right now. They are exclusive to the Hatch Valley in New Mexico, and if you are lucky enough, your local store may have a few days or a week of offering them, most likely from the good people at Melissa’s Produce. Check their site to see if there are any stores near you. (They are at D&W in Grand Haven today!) The chilis, which have an earthy taste and varying degrees of heat, mature in a very short window in late August and September. My store roasts them for me, but I clean off the char and pull out the seeds and stems before zipping to freeze. It makes it infinitely easier to just pull out a few at a time all winter to throw into soups and stews, and, yes, more Salsa Verde, should I run out.
If you don’t get them, feel free to roast some poblanos or even use fresh jalapenos should you be grill-averse after a summer of BBQs.
How do you thicken Salsa Verde?
Some versions of this yummy sauce may have you reducing down the mixture on the stove to thicken. Me: “Just say no!” I feel that kills all those bright and beautiful greens and turns it to a dull olive drab. I have two hacks to help with this. First I add a ripe avocado to thicken things up, and second I add a slow drizzle of olive oil with the processor running to emulsify the sauce. The avo may shorten the life a skosh, but you will go through it quickly so that’s never been a problem. You can also divvy it up into smaller containers and freeze small batches of it. You might even consider an ice cube tray to create portioned cubes of the saucy wonder. I have some in my shop that make large cubes and are covered for both easy stacking and keeping the freezer burn at bay.
Salsa Verde Uses
Here are just a few of the many ways you can mix this green goodness into your daily life:
On the table as a condiment (photo below) – amazing with grilled meats
As a drizzle on cheeses (above on a Caprese) How about a burrata drizzle?
Mixed with sour cream for a dip or dollop (Mexican condiment tray at bottom)
Stirred into guacamole for a kick up
Mixed with yogurt as a spread (I just used it on steak sliders)
Marinade for vegetables, chicken, fish, or meats (vegetables below)
Glaze to brush on dishes just before they come off the grill
Spice up a tortilla soup …..or any other soup or stew
Eggs, hell yaas! How about that Mexican egg layered number, the chilaquiles?
Salad dressing – mix with buttermilk and make it creamy
Drizzle on a citrus salad? Grilled fish! Sauteed scallops! Steaks!
Anything tortilla based – Tacos, burritos, quesadillas, enchiladas, y mas!
Cocktails! Shake it up with some lime juice and tequila! How about adding an oyster shooter to that combo? Oh yeah!
However you chose to use it, please report back. Comments and shares keep this blog going. I know you are going to love this and can’t wait to hear how you put this to use. Enjoy!
The Green Machine, while technically a Salsa Verde that can be used on its own in the traditional green sauce way, is so-named because it’s a workhorse. Check out the laundry list of possible ideas from marinade, to dip, to dressing, to cocktails.
2 cloves garlic
2 roasted Hatch or poblanos chilis, seeds and ribs removed
3 cups arugula, tightly packed
1 bunch of Italian parsley, bottom stems discarded
1 bunch cilantro, bottom stems discarded
juice of 4 limes (1/2 cup)
3 medium tomatillos, husks removed and quartered
1 avocado, scooped from the skin
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup olive oil plus 1/4 cup water
With the motor running, drop the garlic in the work bowl of a food processor until minced.
Add the chilis, arugula, parsley and cilantro in batches, pulsing as you add to create enough room and to chop finely.
Add the lime juice, tomatillos, avocado and salt. Pulse all ingredients until pureed.
With the motor running, slowly add the olive oil and water. Scrape down the sides as needed.
Taste to adjust seasonings, adding salt and pepper, lime juice or olive oil to balance the flavor. Final seasoning will depend on the chilis used and the “flavorfulness” of your herbs and arugula.
If you don’t have roasted Hatch chilis in your freezer (autumn is the time to buy them fresh, possibly already roasted by your local store, and stock your freezer for the coming months) nor feel like firing up the grill to roast poblanos, substitute 1-2 fresh jalapeños, ribs and seeds removed
Serve as a dressing, marinade, salsa or sauce. If needed, you can thin with additional lime juice or water. Mix with sour cream or Greek yogurt to make a sauce or dip. Add to guacamole to kick up the guac heat. If using as a marinade, use 1 1/2 Tablespoons per chicken breast or per half-pound of meat.
So many plums, so little time. The countdown is on for the end of the stone fruit season, but right now you can find perhaps a dozen plum varieties at both your local farmers’ market or supermarket. A recent stroll down the grocery aisle revealed Pluots of the red, green, and dinosaur varieties, as well as Sunrise Reds, Midnight Moons, Damson, Greengage, Mirabelle and Stanley Rubies. The colors both outside and in reflect the rainbow. I love buying a few of each so that chopped and mixed you can create a colorful salsa with tastes that run from tart to sweet, then pump that flavor further with fresh lime, crystallized ginger and loads of fresh mint.
Plums are an essential flavor in many Asian cuisines, but especially Japanese and Chinese. While neither the salsa nor the pork marinade are authentic, they reflect my modern update on classic cuisines using the palate of flavors and pantry staples that represent their birth regions. I first traveled to both Japan and China shortly after my year-long stint in four kitchens in France, where I drilled down on classic techniques. That travel, more than anything else in my life, transformed both my palate and thoughts toward technique, opting for less reliance on fat-first flavor and relying more heavily on quick cooking techniques and bold aromatics, like ginger. It has been said I am a fiend for ginger. That is no lie.
I found this bamboo ginger grater on one of my trips, and it is much easier to clean and gives a higher yield of grated ginger than a microplane. If you ever see one, snag it. The two recipes in this post rely on crystallized ginger for the salsa (love the little texture contrast that crystallized gives when mixed with fruit) and fresh for the marinade. Fresh ginger is also a terrific meat tenderizer, so this marinade works well with less primo cuts of meat.
Asian Marinated Pork Tenderloin
This marinade recipe in its first iteration came about from a bet with the great Josh Wesson, lord of all things food and wine pairing. Once during Aspen’s Food & Wine Classic, he smugly dared me to serve up blue fish in any possible way that would EVER pair with a wine. Once thought to be too oily to be wine-friendly, the pesky poisson was handily tamed by this robust marinade. I WON. I don’t remember where we landed for the wine, but believe it was a Gewurztraminer or something in the Alsatian family. The marinade went on to earn me a spot in the Gourmet Magazine Healthy Menu Awards final round, and in yet another reboot it was featured in Great Women Chefs. Until I saw the parade of plums this week, I had not thought of the marinade in quite a while, but dusted it off and tweaked a few ratios and ingredients, and it’s just as full of flavor (and simple to prepare) as I remember. And as is required to qualify for my list of favorite “dump and stir” recipes, this Asian marinated pork lets some of the store-bought ingredients like black bean garlic paste and hoisin do the heavy lifting, flavor-wise.
With all the plums in season right now, it’s the perfect time to whip up a little Asian-inspired Ginger Plum Salsa. And what could be better than serving that with this flavor-rich and a snap to prepare Asian Marinated Pork Tenderloin?
Ginger Plum Salsa
2 cups pitted and diced plums (assorted varieties, about 4 or 5 plums)
1/2 cup diced, peeled cucumber
2 Tablespoons minced red onion or 1 scallion, thinly sliced
Juice of one lime (about 2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice)
1 Tablespoon honey
2 Tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 Tablespoons chiffonade (thin ribbons) of fresh mint
2 1-pound pork tenderloins, trimmed of silver skin and fat
Make Ginger Plum Salsa
Combine the plums, cucumber and red onion (or scallions) in a small bowl.
In another small bowl, whisk together the fresh lime juice, honey, crystallized ginger and red pepper flakes. Pour over the fruit and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Add the mint just before serving.
Makes 2 1/2 cups
Make Asian Marinade
Combine all marinade ingredients and marinate the pork at least 30 minutes and up to overnight. If you are marinating for more than 1 hour, refrigerate, covered.
Grill Asian Marinated Pork Tenderloin
Remove meat from marinade and pat dry. Start over a hot grill to mark, then cook on a cooler part of the grill (with the lid down) about 20-30 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 145oF. Alternatively cook in a 425oF until meat reaches temperature, 20-35 minutes.
Remove from the grill or oven and let rest 10 minutes before carving.
Serve alongside ginger plum salsa.
Prep Time:20 minutes (plus marinating time)
Cook Time:25 minutes
Fresh mint and lime juice really elevate the flavors in the salsa and brighten the whole plate.
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This spin on a Beef Satay incorporates a marinade and a dipping sauce that both can be used in a myriad of ways. Use the marinade on pork, chicken or even fish and dip away in the peanut sauce with vegetables, eggrolls and dumplings, or use as a dressing on Chinese chicken salad.
1/4 cup grated ginger
8 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons hoisin
2 Tablespoons black bean garlic paste
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tablespoons molasses
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 cup sesame oil
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 pound beef tenderloin, trimmed
14 ounce can coconut milk
1 cup roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup lime juice
2 teaspoons minced shallots
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili garlic paste (sambal oelek)
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup sesame oil
1 Tablespoon chopped cilantro
Make the marinade: Combine all marinade ingredients and marinate beef for one hour or overnight in a non-reactive pan, covered, in the refrigerator.
Make the dipping sauce: Heat coconut milk in a saucepan until reduced by half. Transfer to a mixing bowl and whisk together with remaining ingredients. Store in the refrigerator.
Remove meat from marinade and pat dry. Sear in 1 teaspoon sesame oil in a hot sauté pan until well browned. Transfer to a roasting pan and roast in a 450oF oven until desired doneness, about 15 minutes more for medium rare. Remove from the oven and let rest 10 minutes. Carve into thin slices and thread onto skewers.
To serve, fan out the skewers on a serving tray atop a bed of red & yellow diced peppers and sliced scallions. Accompany with a bowl of dipping sauce.