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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Mint (or cilantro or parsley) chimichurri (or gremolata)

Come summer, I really don't like to do too much to my food.  It's too hot for one thing to be doing fancy-schmancy cooking, and everything is at its freshest and best during the season so you don't need to do much to get the best flavor.

I like chutneys, chimichurris and gremolatas because they dress up a very plainly prepared protein or vegetable without overwhelming the innate best flavor of the ingredients.  They're easy to put together, keep in the fridge for days and can be used as a quick finish to any number of simple meals. 

They're also a great way to "split" a menu to accomodate different palates at the same table...you cook the protein the same way and offer the chimichurri to those who want a stronger, more complex flavor and leave the dish plain for those who prefer a milder, simpler flavor.  I would serve this with chicken breasts, steak, pork chops, burgers, bean patties or even a heartier fish.

I use mint as the base for this chutney/chimichurri because I have a ton growing in my garden and because I am one of those people to whom cilantro tastes like rubber.  But if you prefer cilantro or parsley, by all means, use one of those herbs (or any combination of the three) as the base.  You can make this sauce thinner and more pourable by adding a bit more olive oil, or you can make it sprinkable (as a gremolata) by halving the oil and stirring in breadcrumbs.  Again, so many choices here.

Mint chimichurri
Makes about 1 cup

1 tbsp diced jalapeno (or more, if desired)
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup chives, coarsely chopped
2 cups packed mint (or cilantro or parsley) leaves
1-2 tbsp red wine vinegar
salt to taste
1/4 cup olive oil (or more, if desired) OR 2 tbsp olive oil + 3/4 cup breadcrumbs for gremolata

Finely chop jalapeno, garlic and chives in a food processor.  Add mint leaves and process until a coarse paste.  Add salt to taste and stir in 1 tbsp vinegar.  Add more vinegar if the mixture seems overly dry.  Stir in olive oil until well-combined (add breadcrumbs now, if making gremolata). Pin It

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