Salsa Verde (Spanish), Sauce Verte (French) and Salsa Verde (Italian) all translate to the same thing – Green Sauce. While the names are the same, the sauces, though similar in some ways, are quite different representations.

verdeLet’s start with the more familiar Spanish Salsa Verde. The main ingredients are tomatillos, jalapeños, white onion, and cilantro and lime juice. Tomatillos, while in the same family as tomatoes, are actually more closely related to the gooseberry, which explains the sourness that comes from the fruit. Whether raw, cooked or my favorite, smoked over an open flame, the ingredients are pureed together and used as a condiment for everything from tacos to tortilla chips to grilled seafood. It can be served hot or cold, mild or spicy. Either way, it’s a great accompaniment to all Mexican food.

Next up is the French Sauce Verte, a traditional bread sauce that dates back to the Renaissance. Romesco is another bread sauce you might have heard of. Before emulsions, bread was a common thickening agent used in sauces. As it absorbed any moisture or oil in a sauce, it would break down and add body to the sauce. The traditional Sauce Verte was made using bread that had been soaked in vinegar and pureed using a mortar and pestle. Then fresh chopped herbs like tarragon, chervil and parsley were added. Olive oil was then used to thin the sauce out to the desired consistency. This was typically served with seafood or vegetable. Now, mayo is used in place of the bread for a more stable sauce with a smoother texture.

chix with verdeItalian Salsa Verde is probably my favorite. This sauce includes parsley, garlic, shallots, capers and anchovies that have all been chopped up and added to vinegar and olive oil for a simple yet delicious vinaigrette. Try with grilled fish, poultry or potatoes for added brightness and flavors for otherwise simple dishes.

Another variation of the green sauce includes Argentinian Chimichurri, which is a twist on the Italian style. Instead of anchovies and capers, cilantro and oregano are used to create a flavorful sauce for grilled meats.

All these sauces are based on some of the same principles: fresh ingredients, simple preparation and a wide range of pairings options. Each one offers a completely different set of flavor profiles to compliment the cuisine it was designed for. Try one or try all, these sauces are a great to add fresh flavors to a wide range of food.

What’s your favorite way to use Green Sauce?