I made a new friend here in West Virginia. Her name is Colleen and I’m a little in awe of her. She’s a very accomplished cameraperson and in the first 48 hours I knew her she gave me a photography lesson, taught me to make no-knead homemade bread, a bright lemony kale salad( recipe to follow) and a revelatory sauce that I liked almost as much as the photography. I always thought chimmichurri was some $1.69 item at Taco Bell that I would never, ever consider eating. I don’t know how, in all these years of enthusiastic eating that I missed such a colour-adding, meal elevating condiment. Apparently, chimmichurri has its roots in Argentina where it’s normally made with parsley instead of cilantro and served with grilled meat. Colleen served hers baked salmon. I just go ahead and ladle it over a thick slice of good homemade bread and goat butter.
There are a number of hypothesis about where the name came from. My favourite is a derivative of a Basque phrase meaning ” a mixture of several things in no particular order”. And really, that’s what I love about this little sauce, other than the fact that it’s bright green and delicious, is that once you get the basic concept you’re free to experiment, tossing in whatever you have on hand that you think might be tasty. In this case we had:
1 bunch cilantro, pull the leaves off and discard the stems, you should wind up with a scant cup
1/4 cup of your best olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 tablespoon of capers, rinsed if they are the salt packed kind
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar, or juice from the caper jar if you aren’t using the salt pack kind
1 small dried chilli, pulverized with a mortar and pestle or 1/4-1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
2 green onions, sliced fine
1 clove of garlic, grated
Zest of one organic lemon
Salt to taste
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and allow to rest preferably overnight or at the very least two hours. Pull out of the refrigerator at least half an hour before serving. If it doesn’t look overly juicy, drizzle on a little more olive oil. I found I only needed to re-oil it on the second day I used it. The cilantro wilts down in the olive oil a lot which means this recipe only yields about a cup. Put it on anything and your meal will instantly be more delicious and special. Thanks Colleen!