I absolutely cannot write anything without first addressing the events of this week with the horrific death of George Floyd because it lays so, so heavy on my heart. One of the reasons I started this blog was to share my experiences of cultures and people around the world through food. Of course, my perspective is always going to be that of a white woman from the United States because that’s who I am. My goal is to celebrate the diversity our world and do research about where different foods came from, and to elevate those cultures. I am aiming for cultural appreciation and not cultural appropriation. I deeply condemn all violations of human rights, especially the tragic and horrific murders of black Americans that were on display yet again this week. We need reform, we need justice, and we need it now because black lives matter.
Of course, my life experiences certainly mean I have blind spots. I’m a product of the society I’ve lived in, I’m human, and I’m constantly learning and growing and striving to be a more inclusive person. So if I make a mistake, or you have a different viewpoint or more information, I encourage constructive discussion in the comments. I believe that one of the ways we can defeat racism is to listen and constantly challenge the assumptions we have about the world.
Food is political. The foods we eat today are based on our history. Think about colonization and what it has done to food. A lot of the food that comprises the US diet today – wheat, sugar, rice, coffee, beef, pork – was imported by the Europeans, not native to the Americas. With the invasion of the Americas, indigenous cooking, ingredients, and recipes were lost as the native populations were decimated. And we misattribute the origins of food all the time. Take the potato. Where did it come from? If you said Ireland, you’re wrong. Potatoes are native to Peru. Tomatoes? Also from the Americas, not Italy.
Of course globalization is not all bad…there’s been a lot of creativity by mixing recipes across cultures (hello, fusion!) We have more opportunities than ever before to travel and try different foods from around the globe, bringing some of those ideas home with us. And there are movements that celebrate indigenous cooking – my current favorite is the Sioux Chef.
On to today’s recipe, which is this deliciously savory chimichurri sauce, a slightly bittersweet condiment originating from Argentina and Uruguay. In these two countries, people eat a lot of meat. In fact, they rank #3 and #4, right behind United States and Australia, in meat consumption per capita. And one of the main accompaniments to all that meat is chimichurri sauce. I don’t eat meat anymore, but that doesn’t mean I have to go without…I’ll be providing several recipes in the future that incorporate chimichurri!
My chimichurri sauce uses the traditional ingredients – parsley, garlic, olive oil, oregano, red pepper flakes, and red wine vinegar with a sprinkle of salt. I’ve seen other variations that are spicier, or incorporate ingredients like cilantro, and while these can make for fun variations, they aren’t the traditional ingredients. Why mess with a classic when it’s so, so good on its own?
I honestly thought this recipe would be easier to create. After all, it’s just a sauce. Famous last words. I had to do it several times to get the right balance of ingredients, and several trials came out quite bitter. Chimichurri has several ingredients that if misused can lead to bitterness. Here are two important tips: First, don’t throw all the ingredients in a food processor or blender. If you mix extra virgin olive oil at a high speed, the taste becomes more bitter, which really isn’t a good match for parsley. The sauce is also at its best when chunky!
My second tip is about cutting parsley so as to remove the stems properly. Parsley stems are more bitter than the leaves. Wash the parsley and pat dry with a paper towel. Then, separate the leaves from the stems. Every sprig of parsley has three stems – two smaller, and one larger. To achieve a fine chop, hold the two smaller stems in between your thumb and index finger, and separate the third larger stem, and then add that back in between your thumb and forefinger as well. Continue like that, stem by stem, until you can’t hold any more. Then, snap the stems off all at once. Can’t quite imagine what I’m describing? Check out this Youtube video.
Once you’ve separated the bitter stems, chop finely. See the video below for the technique.
Add the other dry ingredients.
Whisk together with olive oil and vinegar. Slather over meats, fish, veggie burgers, or in my case, cauliflower steaks (coming soon!)
Traditional Chimichurri Sauce
15 minutes, makes approximately one cup.
- 1 bunch parsley, finely chopped (approx. 1 cup)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced (approx. 2 tablespoons)
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- Medium bowl
- Chop the parsley and garlic. Mix with oregano, red pepper flakes, and salt.
- Add the olive oil and red wine vinegar. Whisk until mixed.
- Serve on top of grilled vegetables, cauliflower steaks, meats, fish, and more.