What do you make when summer is a no-show, when instead of endless days of blue skies and sunshine you are served up rain and more rain? So much rain that instead of tomatoes, peppers and basil, these are what’s growing in your garden. So much rain that you worry that you yourself might be growing gills.
Answer: You make your own sunshine. You make salsa verde, a classic all-purpose sauce that shines with the bright flavors of fresh parsley, capers, garlic, anchovies and vinegar. A glug of good olive oil gives it warmth.
For all its attitude ~ any recipe with capers, garlic, vinegar and anchovies is big on attitude ~ salsa verde is an accommodating sauce. I spooned it over seared scallops the other night for dinner but it goes well with any of these:
* grilled calamari or shrimp
* poached or grilled fish such as bass, swordfish, snapper or tuna
* hard-boiled eggs
* poached or grilled chicken
* lamb chops
* beef tenderloin
* boiled or grilled new potatoes
* grilled or roasted sweet peppers
It’s a good sauce to customize, too. I add a handful of fresh breadcrumbs to my salsa verde to thicken it. Some versions call for a small boiled potato; others use no thickener. You can substitute lemon juice for the vinegar; for even more attitude, mix in a few minced cornichons.
Take that, rain.
[EVENT NOTE: A friendly reminder that I will be teaching two classes at Stonewall Kitchen, in York, Maine this weekend: A Glorious Vegetable Feast for Summer, and A Glorious Pasta Feast for Summer. For more information and to see what we’ll be making, click here. Hope to see you there!]
This piquant sauce is my go-to culinary accessory. Not only does it go beautifully with rich, buttery scallops, as in this recipe, but also a host of other fish and seafood ~ calamari, tuna, swordfish, sea bass, halibut and branzino to name a few. And it pairs well with grilled lamb, chicken or beef; and a variety of vegetables, especially peppers and potatoes.
Note that the recipe for salsa verde makes about a cup, which is more than you need to dress the scallops. Leftovers will keep for several days in the refrigerator.
Adapted from *Williams-Sonoma Rustic Italian* (Weldon-Owen, 2011)
- Salsa Verde
- 2 cups lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 2 imported Italian or Spanish anchovy fillets
- 1 clove garlic, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs (see Note)
- 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (or lemon juice)
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
- 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 pound sea scallops, small side muscles removed
In the work bowl of a food processor, combine the parsley, anchovies, garlic, bread crumbs, capers, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a generous grinding of pepper. Pulse briefly to combine. Sprinkle in the vinegar and pulse again. With the motor running, drizzle in 1/2 cup olive oil and process until smooth. Scrape the sauce into a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap.
Measure the flour into a shallow bowl. Pat the scallops dry with paper towels and dredge lightly in the flour, shaking of the excess. In a large frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Arrange the scallops in the pan and season with a little salt and pepper. Sauté until nicely browned on the bottom, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn carefully and sauté until browned on the other side and opaque almost all the way through but still tender, 2 to 3 minutes longer.
Using a wide spatula, gently transfer the scallops to a serving platter and spoon a little of the salsa verde over them. Serve, passing additional sauce at the table.
Note: To make fresh bread crumbs, cut the crust of a thick slice of good Italian bread and either chop finely or zap in the food processor.
Wine suggestion: Orvieto, a dry, everyday white from Umbria