Monday, July 16, 2012

Two uses for Chimichurri

Parsley.  The word doesn't always inspire excitement when one hears it.  In fact, the humble herb has often been used for decoration rather than food!  Then we all found out about chimichurri...

This tangy and bright-tasting condiment hails from Argentina and is generally considered a sauce for meat, particularly beef.  It's similar to pesto in method of preparation but the result is lighter, more vinegar-driven and distinctly spicy thanks to the red pepper flakes.  Either way, it is an easy way to make parsley taste awesome and this recipe uses up a lot of the herb at once, which is great news for all my fellow CSA friends that have been getting the stuff in abundance from Grant Family Farms!

As with any popular recipe, there are lots of different variations.  This one uses only parsley, but I've seen chimichurri recipes that have the addition of cilantro, oregano, or even chives.  Most chimichurri calls for garlic but I used grilled garlic scapes, instead.  They add a wonderful, smoky-garlic flavor to the sauce and the extra step of grilling the scapes helps to mellow them out a little.

This recipe makes a little over a cup of chimichurri and I used it two different ways:  one was simply as a dipping sauce for some home-made breadsticks (thanks to some leftover pizza dough).  The second is in the recipe, below, as a dressing for a hearty, grilled vegetable and chorizo salad. 


2 bunches of parsley (curly or flat-leaf)
3-4 garlic scapes
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (or more, if desired)
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

Heat your grill to medium-high.  Wash garlic scapes and drizzle with a little olive oil.  Cook on the grill for about 2 minutes per side (scapes should get a little char but not too much or they will dry out).  Remove from heat and allow to cool, slightly.

Cut parsley leaves away from stems and add to a food processor.  When scapes have cooled, roughly chop them and add to the food processor along with vinegar and pepper flakes.  Pulse several times until parsley is well-chopped, then turn processor on and slowly drizzle in the oil.  Turn machine off and add salt and pepper to taste, then stir with a spatula to combine.

Grilled Vegetable and Chorizo Salad with Chimichurri Dressing
serves 3-4

1 large head lettuce (red leaf, romaine, or a mix of both), washed and chopped
1 medium zucchini
2-3 large red potatoes
1 8-oz Spanish chorizo (I used Palacios Hot), sliced
1/4 cup chimichurri
extra olive oil

Heat your grill to medium-high.  Using a mandoline, slice zucchini and potatoes into 1/4-inch thick slices and toss with a little olive oil.  Grill sliced vegetables until nice char marks form, about 2-3 minutes for zucchini and 4 minutes for the potato slices.  Remove from grill and set aside.

Place a small skillet over medium-high heat.  Add chorizo slices and cook until heated through and just barely browned, about 3-4 minutes.  Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk about a tablespoon of olive oil (or more) into the chimichurri to thin the mixture.  Toss half the dressing with the lettuce.  Portion the lettuce out into servings and top each with zucchini and potato slices.  Drizzle chimichurri on top of the vegetables, and top with chorizo slices.  Serve immediately.

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