There is something amazing about Salsa Verde. Perhaps it’s the versatility of it; it really does go with everything from meat and fish to vegetables and potatoes. The perfect accompliment to a summer barbecue. It’s a recipe that packs a punch, so if you appreciate strong bold flavours, you’ll fall in love with it for sure.
Salsa Verde translates simply to ‘Green Sauce’. There are literally millions of versions out there, Italian, French, Spanish, Mexican. You name it, almost every country appears to have their own version incorporating different herbs and cold raw ingredients. The recipe below is my perfect balance of flavours.
A small amount of this Salsa Verde will totally transform any dinner into something truly remarkable. It keeps well in the fridge and even gets better with time. That’s if you have any left; it was so popular with my barbecue guests I had none left to save. Much to my disappointment.
You can keep it refrigerated for about a week and a half, or you could freeze it. Pop it into ice-cube trays and use them to jazz up pasta dishes and soups.
I sit for what can only be described as a rare moment in time. I am alone in the house. No boyfriend, no baby and no boyfriends children – and I don’t even feel guilty that I am utterly enjoying my own company. Something very strange has happened to me since becoming a mother. My camera roll on my phone is filled with baby pictures, rather than foodie ones. I’ve found it impossible to find time to blog lately – something any new mother will surely understand. But I’ve missed it. Once Jemima is asleep I begin the long task of washing and sterilising her bottles, tidying away her toys and bath things, washing her clothes, making my dinner, clearing and washing up – there is just no time. Giving up my blog isn’t an option. It’s my one hobby that’s wholly mine – something I can get lost in, and really it’s an excuse to eat just about anything that takes my fancy. That’s not something I’m prepared to give up just yet.
Speaking of eating anything you like. I am probably in the minority as I’ve decided that starting a healthy eating regime in January just doesn’t make any logical sense. You’re already feeling blue, given that the glistening lights of the festive season are a distant memory and the bank balance is looking somewhat dire. Not to mention the fact that the cupboards are stacked with indulgent unhealthy leftovers. What’s a girl to do? Struggle through the entire month trying to resist the last few Quality Street or that delicious cheese that calls my name every time I open the fridge? No!
Rich and I decided that we’d eat our way through what’s left of Christmas and start our health kick when I return to work (after five months of maternity leave) on the 1st of February. So, I have about two weeks left to enjoy being that smug person that isn’t having a ‘dry’ January and eating salad every night of the week.
Today I wanted to share with you a recipe that I happened upon because of leftovers. This week I made a huge batch of my favourite pasta dish – spaghetti puttanseca and used the left over sauce with mussels. It was utterly delicious. Puttanseca is a wonderfully pungent tomato based sauce – with ingredients like anchovies, chillies and capers it really packs a punch.
This recipe will serve two as a main meal with bread and butter, or four as a starter.
50ml dry white wine
75ml Scrumpy cider
2 shallots, finely shopped
1 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
½ tsp of chilli flakes
1 medium heat red chilli, roughly chopped
5-6 canned anchovies in oil (reserve the oil)
2 tbsp chopped parsley
2 tsp of capers, drained
10 black olives, roughly chopped
400g chopped tomatoes
Start by cleaning and de-bearding the mussels in cold water. Discard any mussels that don't fully close when tapped. Place the mussels aside in a bowl.
For the puttanseca sauce:
Heat the olive oil in a pan over a medium heat and add the garlic, fresh and dried chilli and and anchovies (along with the oil from the anchovies). Allow to cook for a couple of minutes until the anchovies have melted away. Add the parsley, capers, olives and chopped tomatoes, turn the heat down to a gentle simmer and cook the sauce for about 20 minutes allowing the flavours to infuse.
Place a separate large saucepan (with a lid) over a medium heat, add a little oil and fry the shallots until translucent. Add the mussels, wine and cider. Spoon in about 150ml of the puttanseca sauce and pop the lid on. Cook until all of the mussels have fully opened.
Serve straight from the steaming pot with a stack of buttered bread and a sprinkling of freshly chopped parsley.
If shellfish isn’t your thing, you could always use up your leftover puttanseca sauce with grilled chicken and salad – that’s also great. And perfect if you’re watching your weight.
Being an avid foodie, it’s almost impossible for me to pick a favourite dish, but there are a few that are certainly up there and this pasta dish certainly deserves a place in my top 5 meals. My friend Emily and I just adore this dish, mainly for its pungent delicious flavour, but also because there are few things more comforting that a big bowl of pasta. I’ve posted a puttanesca recipe before, but this is a variation on the last recipe, I wanted to create a super quick version of my favourite pasta dish that is just as delicious.
If you’ve never tried puttanesca, I’ll warn you, it’s instantly addictive, and will most likely become a real go to meal when you’re having a busy week. You can almost make the entire meal from your store cupboard ingredients, all except the lemon juice, parsley and red chilli. Of course you could use chilli flakes, and bottled lemon juice, but the fresh parsley is a must. A word of warning, don’t add any salt to the dish, the anchovies provide all the saltiness you need.
Traditionally, you would use spaghetti in this dish, but any pasta you have knocking about is fine, and to be honest fusilli worked really well here, and for a speedy supper it’s easier to eat – that is simply my inner greed. My boyfriend always comments on how quickly I eat my meals. Ingredients:
250g fusilli pasta
1 can of chopped tomatoes
1 can of anchovies
3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
1 red chilli roughly chopped
2 tbsp capers
Juice of half a lemon
Handful of freshly chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp parmesan cheese, grated
Start by cooking the pasta according to the packet instructions.
Meanwhile, add the anchovies to a hot pan, with the oil that they are in, using a wooden spoon break them up; the heat will turn them into a paste. Add the garlic and chilli, cook for a couple of minutes.
Add the chopped tomatoes, capers and half of the parsley to the pan. Squeeze over the juice of half a lemon and mix well to combine, allow this to simmer over a medium heat until the pasta is cooked.
Drain the pasta; add to the pan with a good pinch of freshly ground black pepper. Serve in warmed bowls with a sprinkling of parsley and parmesan.
This recipe comes courtesy of Jamie Oliver, although I know Nigella has an equally good recipe, and I love that she gives hers the rather playful name of Sluts Spaghetti. You might be wondering, so I’ll explain the reasoning behind the naughty name, besides the fact that Nigella probably quite likes the effect it has, the Italian name Spaghetti alla Puttanesca literally translates as “whore’s style spaghetti”. Perhaps the name is given for the pungent, slightly spicy note, or the immense saltiness of the dish. Either way, it’s an indulgently gratifying meal that I quite enjoy making when I’m home alone, all the more for me. I’ve made this a few times now, and as much as I’d like to keep it to myself, I thought it was high time I shared it. And, I always make enough so I have leftovers for lunch the next day.
You should definitely take Jamie’s advice of adding some of the pasta water to the sauce to loosen it. We Brits have a tendency to make ridiculously thick pasta sauces, which are certainly not authentically Italian. There are two things here, the first being that adding starchy water will help the sauce cling to the pasta, making it doubly tasty. And, the second is that it acts as an emulsifier and helps to loosen everything up a little.
Having discovered this amazing recipe, I’m certainly going to spend some more time researching authentic Italian pasta sauces. I feel I could have more appreciation than I currently do for Italian food. God bless you Jamie Oliver for helping me to discover that Italian food is more exciting than I perhaps anticipated.
Jamie suggests garlic ciabatta with this dish which accompanies it perfectly, for my recipe click here.