Salsa Verde: Make Your Own Sunshine

salsa verde

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.

salsa verde ingredients

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!]

Makes 4 servings

Seared Sea Scallops with Salsa Verde

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

  • Scallops
  • 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

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19 Responses to Salsa Verde: Make Your Own Sunshine

  1. Chiara July 3, 2013 at 10:08 am #

    adoro le capesante, con questa salsa devono essere deliziose !Un abbraccio !

    • Domenica Marchetti July 3, 2013 at 2:43 pm #

      Grazie cara Chiara. Erano buonissime, almeno quelle che ho assaggiato ~ il mio figlio ha mangiato quasi tutte! xx

  2. Nicole July 3, 2013 at 3:43 pm #

    I want to put this on everything!

    • Domenica Marchetti July 3, 2013 at 6:01 pm #

      Nicole, you SHOULD put it on everything ~ except maybe tiramisu’

  3. Barb | Creative Culinary July 3, 2013 at 4:24 pm #

    I love this rain or shine; enough that sometimes all I have to put it on is a cracker and I’m happy!

    • Domenica Marchetti July 3, 2013 at 6:02 pm #

      Crackers, of course!

  4. Majella Home Cooking July 3, 2013 at 8:39 pm #

    I am not an “American” condiment person – my mom pretty much brainwashed me against mayo, mustard, ketchup, etc. when I was a kid and I’ve recovered with limited success. So discovering salsa verde when I started to cook avidly was like a gift from God himself. I make it year-round – for grilled meats and fish in the summer and roasts in the winter. LOVE IT! xo, Michelle

    • Domenica Marchetti July 3, 2013 at 11:05 pm #

      Michelle ~ you can shake hands with my son. He’s not fond of most American condiments either. But he loves this salsa verde. We had it on hard-boiled eggs for lunch today.

  5. Jamie July 4, 2013 at 8:44 am #

    Gorgeous sauce! I do live the salty bite of both anchovies and capers but not whole so this sauce is wonderful! And now I want it on scallops!! Beautiful, Domenica!

    • Domenica Marchetti July 4, 2013 at 11:56 am #

      Thanks my friend. Sending you Fourth of July greetings from across the ocean. xo

  6. elisa July 4, 2013 at 3:51 pm #

    When I bought yor book “Rustic Italian” (that’s how we “met”), I made the salsa verde recipe and I used as a condiment for cold pasta salad. Although I am not really fond of cold pasta, I loved it! I used farfalle and then another time I used ziti. Grazie di nuovo per questa ricetta!

    • Domenica Marchetti July 8, 2013 at 9:18 am #

      Elisa ~ I like your idea of tossing the sauce with a cold pasta salad, especially during summer’s hottest days. Like you, I’m not hugely fond of pasta salad (what Italian is?) but if there’s ever a good time for it, the dog days of July and August are surely it. I’ll give it a try. Grazie.

  7. Laura (Tutti Dolci) July 5, 2013 at 1:46 am #

    I love seared scallops, what a perfect sauce to top them with!

    • Domenica Marchetti July 8, 2013 at 9:19 am #

      Thank you Laura. Hope you give it a try.

  8. ciaochowlinda July 8, 2013 at 8:43 am #

    My relatives in Emilia Romagna make this with roasts but I love the idea of using it with grilled or steamed fish now that summer is here and I want to eat lighter. Thanks for reminding me of this great sauce. Buon estate.

    • Domenica Marchetti July 8, 2013 at 9:20 am #

      Linda, your mention of Emilia Romagna makes me wonder about the provenence of this sauce. I’ll have to look into it. And speaking of eating lighter, I think I’m going to join you.

  9. Fr Peter Nassetta July 25, 2013 at 4:08 pm #

    I have used it on beef and chicken. I am going to put it on scallops tomorrow!

  10. Claudio September 9, 2015 at 7:05 am #

    Salsa verde con bollito misto, buonissimo!!!


  1. On Sunday, occasionally – No. 1 – Adri Barr Crocetti - July 14, 2013

    […] Salsa Verde – Domenica Marchetti dishes on the classic Italian sauce […]

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