Image by Emma Loughran
By James DeBurca, chef at Cornucopia Dublin.
Salsa verde translates as ‘green sauce’, a very literal and descriptive name and a hugely popular Italian sauce that has
many uses and adaptations. Even more variations of green sauce can be found in the cuisines of Europe and Latin America. The ingredients that I believe all Italian style salsa verdes have in common are the ones included in the recipe below. The green herbs provide fragrance, the capers and garlic the pungency and wine vinegar or lemon the sharp tang, all brought together with a little olive or rapeseed oil. In this recipe I’m using it to dress a chilled potato salad, but let your imagination inspire you to use it wherever you deem perfect!
The baby vegetables in the photo were grown on Iona Fruit Farm in North County Dublin. While they’re a lot more expensive than ‘regular vegetables’, they have an added charm in that they are grown here in Ireland and have allowed independent growers to diversify. Donnacha Donnelly from Iona Fruit Farm explained to me that it was becoming very difficult to supply vegetables to exact specifications. The specifications required by major retailers are often to the detriment of the farmer. Donnacha now grows a lot of baby vegetables and has noted the benefits, as they can be harvested to less specific shapes and sizes, have a shorter growing time and lessen the workers’ exposure to the winter elements. The downsides are the extra time spent packing the vegetables and that is often where cost can creep up. The benefit to us is that we get to buy locally grown vegetables and eat more in tune with our environment.
Baby Potatoes and Purple sprouting Broccoli Salad dressed in salsa Verde with steamed baby Beetroot and Carrot (4 portions)
Ingredients for the salad:
- 1kg (6 cups) baby potatoes
- 500g (2 bunches) purple sprouting broccoli
- Ingredients for the Salsa Verde
- 120g to 140g (2 cups) soft green herbs such as parsley, tarragon, mint
- and basil
- 20g (2 cloves) peeled garlic
- 100g (½ cup) capers, drained
- 90ml (6 tablespoons) white wine vinegar or lemon juice
- 1.5g (¼ teaspoon) sea salt
- 180ml (¾ cup) cold pressed olive or rapeseed oil
1. Prepare the baby potatoes by chopping them into bite-size pieces. Steam or boil for 20-25 minutes, until tender, then set aside to cool for a few minutes. As the potatoes are cooking, you can use the time to prepare the baby vegetables, broccoli and the salsa verde.
2. Remove and discard the thicker stems from the broccoli and retain the florets and thinnest stems for the salad. The broccoli will only need to be steamed or blanched for 2-3 minutes then set aside to cool down. It’s best not to overcook the broccoli!
3. To make the salsa verde it is easiest to use a food processor or stick blender. Place the herbs, garlic, capers, vinegar/lemon juice, and sea salt into your food processor and blend the mixture to a smooth, bright green puree.
4. Slowly pour in the olive or rapeseed oil and continue to puree the sauce until all the ingredients are combined, and set aside until needed.
Ingredients for the steamed baby vegetables:
- 250g (12) baby carrots
- 320g (8) baby beetroots
1. Wash the beetroots and carrots well then leave them whole for steaming. The beetroots take 20-25 minutes to steam, the carrots need only 7-10 minutes. As the beetroots and carrots are best served warm, you can time the cooking so they are ready as you serve the potato and broccoli salad.
To assemble the salad:
1. Place the cooked potatoes and broccoli into a bowl and pour in the salsa verde. Mix gently so the vegetables are fully coated in the green sauce.
Divide the salad onto 4 plates and assemble the steamed baby vegetables around it to serve.