Chimichurri Sauce is a glorious, garlicky herb sauce meant for slathering over grilled meats. It’s the Argentinian version of a pesto, and it’s fabulous!
A friend and I had a quick lunch the other day in an Argentinian restaurant. They served us a delicious bowl of garlicky chimichurri sauce with bread and it just so happens that this zesty sauce has been on my to do list for a long time.
Chimichurri is a robust Argentinian herbed sauce that’s usually used with grilled meats, but, as I found out, it’s also a perfect dip for crusty bread.
The basic idea is finely minced herbs, mostly parsley and oregano, sometimes thyme, basil or cilantro as well, blended with garlic, olive oil, and a bit of citrus. I managed to get some good tips from our nice waiter, like the fact that he prefers lime in his chimichurri, red pepper flakes gives it some heat, and cilantro is verboten.
I used my trusty small food processor, which was perfect for this job, but in fact, according to our waiter, the more authentic way to do this is by hand. When you do it in a processor the oil emulsifies slightly, giving it a paler color and thicker texture. Same flavor, though. The by-hand method will produce a thinner sauce. So either way you want to do it is fine.
I used this sauce in my Chimichurri Shrimp, which can be a fabulous appetizer or a light meal. The brilliant green color draws the eye first, but the explosive flavor is what really makes this sauce a winner.
One simple sauce and the sky’s the limit for how you can use it. I spooned ours over grilled steak, but it’s good on chicken and fish, too. Toss it with baby potatoes before you roast them in the oven. Use it as a salad dressing, on tacos, or just dip your favorite bread right into it.
This tangy gutsy sauce is too easy not to try.
To make chimichurri, or any similar recipe where you need a smooth puree, you’ll need a basic food processor. I like and use Cuisinart food processors, and they make affordable and sturdy machines in a variety of sizes. I recommend a small one for small jobs like salad dressings, and the full sized model for larger recipes.
- 2 cloves garlic (use one for a less pungent flavor)
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 shallot, rough chopped
- 1 cup parsley leaves, be sure to remove most of the stems and rinse well
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
- 2 Tbsp fresh oregano leaves (must be fresh!)
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves
- 1/2 cup olive oil (plus more for thinning if needed)
- juice of 1/2 large lime (or 1 small)
- 1 Tbsp sherry vinegar
- 1/2 tsp red chili flakes
- fresh cracked pepper to taste
- Drop the garlic, salt and shallot into a small food processor and process until finely minced. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
- Put the rest of the ingredients in the processor and pulse/process until the herbs are finely minced. Scrape down the sides of the bowl a couple of times. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings to your preference.
- Let the sauce rest in the refrigerator for an hour or two before using. If the sauce becomes too thick, thin it down with more olive oil.
Make it your own ~
- Make it spicier by adding a whole jalapeno. Go bolder by using a spicier Serrano pepper.
- Make it ahead – you can make this sauce up to a day or two ahead. It can also be frozen.