I have a confession. I don’t really like pesto.
I probably just feel that way because I’ve never been able to successfully make a good pesto myself – it always gets overwhelmed by the garlic. Maybe that makes me a little immature (like a kid who’s picked last at dodgeball – “Dodgeball’s stupid. I’ve never liked it”), but I’m comfortable with that. I’ve discovered a love for something far better.
Fresh, pungent, and fool proof, the traditional Argentinian sauce chimichurri is my new favorite summer flavor. Being a raw sauce, it doesn’t strain the AC while maintaining all those fragile good-for-you compounds in garlic, parsley, and olive oil. It’s supposed to be heavy handed, so too much garlic is never enough, and a good glug of red wine vinegar won’t overwhelm the parsley. Equally good on beef, chicken, pork, fish, shrimp, as a vinaigrette for a grilled veggie salad, and even slathered on a piece of bread (or, honestly, spooned straight out of the food processor), it’s built both for speed and stamina. Hell, it’s even more fun to say than pesto. I think it’ll shove pesto off it’s bourgeois pedestal in no time.
I first had chimichurri at Watercress in Ithaca. In a flawless execution of fusion, we were served chimichurri shrimp with preserved citrus. The marriage was made in heaven. I have yet to preserve my own lemons, but I hear it’s a cinch, so feel free to try the pairing yourself.
These are just general guidelines, feel free to play around with the proportions to suit your taste. This sauce is really supposed to be strong, so feel free to up the garlic, vinegar, and salt. Other variations I’ve seen include cumin, cilantro, and fresh oregano in different combinations, so experiment.
1 bunch parsley, coarse stems removed
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp salt
3 tbs red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp dried crushed red chili
1/2 c olive oil
In the bowl of a food processor, finely mince the parsley and garlic. Add the vinegar, pepper, and salt, and continue to blend until uniform. With the processor running, drizzle in the olive oil until it’s smooth and the consistency of a thick pesto (you may not need all of the olive oil). Taste and adjust for seasoning, if needed.