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Summer flavors come alive in chimichurri

I don’t often get this giddy when I share a recipe, but this one is so special I’m doing my happy dance.

Let’s talk chimichurri. It’s garlicky and tangy with a spicy little kick, filled with lovely fresh herbs. It’s light and summery, grassy, verdant and ridiculously flavorful.

Chimichurri verde is an uncooked condiment made from parsley and cilantro, garlic, olive oil, red wine vinegar and red pepper flakes. A variation called chimichurri rojo adds red bell pepper and tomato.

An essential element of Argentinean cuisine, a bowl of chimichurri can be found on every dinner table, and rightfully so. Once you make it, you’ll put it on everything. You think I’m exaggerating. You’ll see.

While mainly thought of as a condiment for grilled beef, it’s beautiful on pork and chicken, too. But wait, there’s more. It’s amazing on tofu, fish and shrimp. Slather it on vegetables, grilled and raw, or use it as salad dressing.

It is traditionally used as a marinade for grilled beef, pork, poultry and fish. Chimichurri can be brushed, basted or spooned onto meat as it cooks, or onto cooked meat as it rests. Then it’s served liberally on the side as a condiment. My family schmears it on bread and eats it with a spoon. Because it goes on everything. Even spoons.

This is a perfect recipe when you have too many herbs in the garden or fridge and want them to last longer than they would otherwise. Every time I make it, it comes out a bit different. Parsley is essential to this recipe but if I add a second herb, sometimes I add cilantro and other times I have oregano or rosemary. Sometimes I have shallots instead of green onion or purple onions. Sometimes I use lemon juice instead red wine vinegar. It’s all going to be good.

CHIMICHURRI VERDE

If you’re a purist, you’ll want to sharpen your knife and bust out the mortar and pestle. I have nothing but respect for that. Personally, I let my food processor do the work for me; just please don’t over-process this sauce. It’s supposed to be a little chunky, not pureed like baby food. The measurements are flexible. Use this as a place to begin, adjusting the recipe until it speaks or sings to your taste buds.

What you’ll need

2 cups parsley (or one cup each parsley and cilantro)

3-5 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped

1/2 cup chopped onion (I used a combo of purple and green onions)

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Here’s how

Start by preparing the herbs. Measure two packed cups of the washed leaves and tender stems of parsley and/or cilantro. (I love that you can use stems in this recipe. They’re so flavorful and they’re often discarded.) In your food processor, process the garlic and onion until chopped. Add the herbs and process until finely chopped. Add the oil, vinegar, oregano, and salt and pepper flakes and process until combined. Let sit at least 10 minutes for flavors to meld.

If making ahead of time, cover tightly (imagine that raw garlic and onion invading your fridge) and chill until ready to use. Leftover sauce can be kept refrigerated for a week.

Here’s my favorite appetizer using chimichurri: roast beef crostini. Slice a French loaf into thin slices, brush with olive oil and toast in a 400 F oven. Top with slices of deli roast beef drizzled with chimichurri.

Remember: Real friends tell you when you have parsley in your teeth. I am that friend.

Lifestyle expert Patti Diamond is a recipe developer and food writer of the website “Divas On A Dime – Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous!” Visit Patti at www.divasonadime.com and join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom. Email Patti at divapatti@divasonadime.com.

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