The herbs are planted! I decided to do the herbs in pots on the deck again this year. I took the easy route. Maybe next year I’ll fulfill my dream of building a couple of raised beds in the back and growing every herb imaginable, along with some tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuces, maybe some sweet peppers and eggplant . . . maybe next year. A girl can dream, can’t she?
Anyway, fresh herbs always make me think of two things: Summer and chimichurri.
I know, I know. Summer is still 3 months away. But here in Southern California, we pretty much skip over Spring and go from our pseudo-winter weather right into Summer. Seriously! It was 90 degrees last weekend! Time to clean up the deck and patio and fire up the grill!
And chimichurri? Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Chimichurri is so 4 years ago, right? Literally, it was 4 years ago that I made Paniolo Steak with Wicked Wahine Chimichurri on Food Network’s Ultimate Recipe Showdown. With that recipe, I was 1 point away from winning $25,000. The chimichurri was that good.
It was probably about five years ago that I began my obsession with chimichurri. I don’t remember where I first tried chimichurri, but I remember the power of those flavors. My taste buds flipped out over the herbaceous explosion of freshness and the kick of garlic that was happening in my mouth! I found a basic recipe and set about tweaking it every which way–trying everything to reinvent it or give it an interesting twist. I tried chipotle chimichurri (I threw in some cilantro and chipotle in adobo), chimichurri with an Asian flair (a little sesame oil, Asian chili sauce, rice vinegar), and citrus chimichurri (I used some fresh lemon, lime and orange juice, along with a little fresh citrus zest). The Wicked Wahine Chimichurri had a tropical undertone (I bet you couldn’t guess that), with pineapple juice, fresh ginger and green onions. It’s all so lovely.
As you probably know, a basic chimichurri consists of lots of parsley, a little oregano, garlic, vinegar and oil. The fresh herb condiment originated in South America. Credit is given to the gauchos of Argentina–the Latin cowboys that roamed the plain, herding cattle and living off the land. Their meals consisted primarily of grilled meats and sausages. They conjured up a condiment for the rich meats by grinding or pounding herbs and adding an acid (vinegar or citrus) and an oil to bind the sauce. Some recipes call for cilantro; some use some form of chili (fresh or dried); and still other “authentic” recipes include ground cumin or other dried spices.
There are obviously countless ways to make chimichurri. My tweaked versions are just variations of variations that have most likely been done before. But so what? Chimichurri is delicious and it tastes like Summer! Experiment with it by adding different flavors and try it on meat, chicken, seafood (my husband loves my Chipotle Chimichurri on grilled shrimp) and even vegetables. It’s also a great base for a vinaigrette, and a yummy way to brighten up a rich cream-based soup. Try my basic version, below, then throw in some of your own flavor ideas! HAPPY SUMMER!
- 1 bunch fresh Italian parsley (flat leaf), tough stems removed and rough chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried oregano)
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and rough chopped
- 3/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Pulse all ingredients together in a food processor until you have a sauce the consistency of a loose pesto. Do not puree completely. Transfer to a bowl and enjoy at room temperature on your favorite grilled meat or seafood. If you’re not using it right away, store it covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days. It may keep longer, but the fresh herbs become dark with oxidation and the flavors lose their freshness.