From America's Test Kitchen Season 5: Grill-Roasted Beef Tenderloin
Most salsa verdes are made from a simple list of ingredients: parsley, olive oil, lemon juice or vinegar, something brined (capers, green olives, or cornichons), garlic, and anchovies. When done right, this bright green sauce transforms praiseworthy dishes into something unforgettable. It should be a balanced yet bold sauce with a thick, uniform texture.
We knew from previous recipes that when parsley is a main ingredient of a dish, the fresh and tender flavor of the Italian (or flat-leaf) variety is preferable to curly parsley. Since tasters couldn’t tell finely hand-chopped parsley from that chopped in a food processor, we opted for the easier food processor method.
Even with the right type of parsley, our initial attempts were far too tangy and sharp. Even worse, the solids collected on the bottom of the bowl and the oil pooled on top. A little research revealed that some recipes use hard-cooked egg yolks or bread to stabilize and thicken the sauce. Egg yolks imparted an off-putting flavor and texture, but the addition of bread created a top-notch sauce. After toasting the bread to remove moisture and prevent gumminess, we processed it with oil and lemon juice, creating a smooth base for our sauce. With the texture fixed, we turned to the remaining ingredients. The salty, pungent bite of capers alone beat out cornichons and olives. Finally, garlic, anchovy fillets, and a pinch of salt rounded out the bright, assertive flavors. The texture was lush and well blended.
Makes a generous 1 1/2 cups
Two slices of sandwich bread pureed into the sauce keeps the flavors balanced and gives the sauce body. Toasting the bread rids it of excess moisture that might otherwise make for a gummy sauce. Salsa verde is excellent with grilled or roasted meats, fish, or poultry; poached fish; boiled or steamed potatoes; or sliced tomatoes. It's also good on sandwiches. It is best served immediately after it is made but can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to two days. If refrigerated, the sauce should be brought to room temperature and stirred to recombine before serving.