Chimichurri Is the Easy and Impressive Sauce That You Never Knew You Needed
I love compliments—especially when said compliments are not given at the expense of an excessive amount effort on my part. It is for this simple reason that I freaking love making chimichurri. This is the sauce that you can whip up with your eyes closed and still get showered in compliments from people who don’t understand just how easy it is to make this stuff. Not only is it easy and extremely versatile, but it’s a strategic way to use up fresh herbs (and their stems, too). Whether you’ve got a summer crowd coming over or you’re just itching for your next go-to, no-cook sauce that you can drizzle on anything, might I recommend you dip your toes into the glorious world of chimichurri (not literally...that’s nasty)?
Chimichurri is technically defined as a thick, Argentinian herb sauce made up of olive oil, vinegar, parsley, oregano, pepper, onion, and garlic. While this may seem like a rigid, hard-and-fast list of ingredients, the components of this sauce are quite flexible. If you have excessive amounts of cilantro or basil, go ahead and throw those in (or substitute them for parsley or oregano if you’d prefer). As far as vinegar, a milder, sweeter option like a sherry or red wine works great. If you’d rather use a different acid to brighten your chimichurri, go for fresh lemon or lime juice. When it comes to the pepper, a fresno chile or red jalapeño are both great for a kick of heat as well as a pop of color (feel free to omit for a milder sauce). For the onion component, I prefer to use a shallot because it has a milder flavor (in comparison to a red or white onion), which bodes well in a vinaigrette-like sauce such as this.
In my humble, sauce-blending opinion, the biggest perk about using up fresh herbs in a chimichurri is the prep work that I am able to avoid in doing so. Rather than meticulously plucking off leaf after leaf and laboriously sweating over a cutting board, just toss the washed herbs into the bowl of a food processor and let the beauty of modern kitchen technology do all the work for you. Traditionally, this sauce is made by hand-chopping the herbs and getting down and dirty with a mortar and pestle (read: a process that I really don’t want to take part in), so if you feel inclined to follow the unwritten laws of this sauce, then you’ve got a little bit more work cut out for you. That being said, the food processor is a huge time-saver, and using it does not sacrifice the quality of the final product. Take with that information what you will.*
As far as measurements, this is a concoction that you can use your best judgments, and adjust as you taste. There’s no need to get hung up on precision, here. Generally speaking, for every cup of fresh herbs that you’re processing, you should be looking at about ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil, ½ cup of acid of choice (vinegar, citrus juice, or a combination of the two), 1-2 garlic cloves, 1 pepper, and 1 small shallot. Finish it with some salt and pepper, and you’re good to go. Store this stuff in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to 10 days, and shower this herbaceous goodness on meat, fish, poultry, eggs, salads, or whatever you’ve got that needs a hit of summery, garden freshness. Feeling pressed for time and can’t find a use for it all? Pour some into an ice cube tray, freeze it, and pop them out on a rainy day (or a sunny day, the weather is irrelevant).
*USE THE DAMN PROCESSOR