I love salsas…. Not only the dance, but the sauces!
A few weeks ago I wrote about a delicious Mango Salsa (recipe here)
Salsa, is simply a sauce originating from Mexico, and adopted in many South American countries. It can be raw, cooked, served hot or at room temperature. Fresh, uncooked salsas as normally known as salsa fresca or crudo (raw).
Many salsas including the famous Mexican are a chunky blend of raw ingredients, with vegetables or fruit. The tomato based Mexican Pico De Gallo being the best known. This salsa is also similar to the Indian tomato and onion sambal served with curries.
I use the same ingredients to make a delicious tomato salad. For a salad I simply cut the tomato into chunkier cubes or I slice the tomato and sprinkle the remaining ingredients over the slices, prepare a few hours in advance for the flavours to develop.
Pico De Gallo (Mexican)
Indian Tomato and Onion Sambal
Spicy tomato salad
I love the Mexican and Indian style salsas but there are two more that are my firm favourites. Some time ago I wrote about Chimichurri, the famous Argentinian Salsa that is served with grilled meats. I usually have a jar of it in my fridge throughout the year.
And then there is the Italian Salsa Verde!
Salsa Verde (Italian) or Verte (French) is a cold sauce that is served on grilled meats, fish or poultry. The French Sauce Verte is a mayonnaise based sauce with chopped herbs added to it.
It is the Italian version the one that I really enjoy. In summer you will usually find a jar of it alongside a jar of Chimichurri (Argentinian) in my fridge. Sometimes I combine the best of both and I have my own Salsa Verde with chilli.
In the Cape were we often eat grilled seafood, I simply cannot resist this delicious salsa (sauce in Italian). As the name implies, it is a green sauce and this is also an uncooked sauce. The Spanish also make a similar Salsa Verde, in fact I cannot find a clear difference so depending on the style of meal you are serving this one swings both ways!
The recipe is very easy to prepare. I prefer to use a sharp knife or a mezzaluna (half moon shaped chopping knife) to chop the herbs, but you are welcome to use a food processor. I also prefer my salsa’s chunkier rather than smooth or paste-like.
The main ingredient is parsley, fresh garlic, and the bold flavours of capers, anchovies and/or chopped pickled gherkins. Additional acidity may be added in the form of wine vinegar and lemon juice.
What’s the difference between a salsa and a pesto?
Pesto is smoother and always contains a nut. Pine nuts are traditional in Italy, but also very expensive. Nearly any nut will do! I have had success with macadamias, cashews, almonds and with seeds where you can experiment with sunflower, pumpkin or a seed blend (to get all your omegas!). The seeds are blended with the herbs and oil to form a thick paste. Parmesan cheese is usually an ingredient, but pecorino, or even ricotta can be used. The thickness can be varied by adding more oil.
Salsa verde does not contain nuts or cheese and it usually contains vinegar, lemon juice, capers or anchovies to give a brighter flavour.
And the of course Chimichurri also has no cheese, nuts or Mediterranean flavours of capers and anchovies but extra interest is added in the form of fresh and/or dried chilli and extra herbs.