Earlier this month we went to Prune to celebrate my birthday. New York Magazine describes the restaurant's cuisine as "unpretentious American home cooking" with a bit of a seasonal farm-to-table slant, meaning there were several menu items that could be easily prepared at home. We still had a great dinner by selecting items that I can't seem to get right in my own kitchen. The lamb blade chops were tender and beefy and the bone marrow appetizer was extraordinary. Marrow bones look easy to prepare, but I've never been able to get them to turn out quite right.
We passed on dishes like roast chicken with salsa verde. I've already written about how easy it is to make roast chicken, and lately I've been making salsa verde about once or twice a week just to use up the mass amounts of herbs I accumulate from working at the La Familia Verde Farmers' Market.The last batch I made included a little basil, mint, and a bunch of papalo- a pungenet herb used in Mexican cooking. The herb looks appealing with its thick, velvety leaves and gently scalloped edges, but some customers at our market are violently repulsed upon smelling it. I think they’re just being dramatic because I find its odor and flavor pleasant. Its more pungent than cilantro, with undertones of citrus and onion. I get the feeling that its used in certain regions of Mexico as a substitute for cilantro during the summer when its too hot to grow that particular herb.
The process of making salsa verde, an Italian green sauce made of herbs, is similar to making pesto. First, I wash all of the herbs and throw them into the bowl of the food processor. Next I pulse the herbs to chop them up. Then, with the blade of the food processor running, I toss in one or two cloves of peeled garlic, a peeled shallot, maybe some capers if I have them, the juice of half a lemon and some lemon zest, and some salt and pepper to taste. Finally, pour in the olive oil in a thin stream to emulsify the sauce, and turn it off when it acheives a smooth texture and begins to turn a lighter green color. Done!
This sauce is a great way to preserve herbs because it will keep longer than if you left them fresh in your fridge. You can use this procedure to clear out your fridge and experiment with whatever you have on hand leftover from your CSA share or a recipe you made- throw in bits of parsley, cilantro, dill, scallions, garlic scapes, onions, lime, vinegar, etc. This sauce is a fantastic accompaniment to pasta with sauteed zucchini, and its delicious smeared on a steak!