Ah, chimichurri – the most fresh and malleable of condiments.
I’d guess most everyone has had a version of chimichurri at some point; for those who haven’t – think of it as a herb salsa that feels most at home atop grilled meats.
Chimichurri is Argentinian in origin and the traditional flavor profile is herby, fresh, and tangy thanks to tons of parsley, cilantro, oregano and vinegar.
The short list of ingredients and loose proportions make chimichurri a wonderful thing to make at home because you can adjust the flavors to your liking and sub in whatever herbs you have left over from another nights cooking.
Now, just because chimichurri is traditionally poured atop a grilled steak doesn’t mean it’s locked into that role. When I sat down to make a list of meals that chimichurri would enhance, I got overwhelmed by the options – there are just that many.
What to do with Chimichurri
- Drizzle over any grilled meat
- On eggs in the morning
- As a burger spread
- In burritos/tacos
- As a salad dressing
- As a summery, fresh pasta sauce
- Over roasted veggies or potatoes
- As a tangy drizzle on top of a savory soup
- As a marinade
- Ad infinitum
Almost any food can be boosted by the simple mixture of herbs and acid. Whip up a batch and try it on a variety of foods throughout the week and I promise you’ll be turning all your leftover herbs into chimichurri on a regular basis.
Bonus: Chimichurri lasts about a week in the fridge but you take any that is leftover and pour it into an ice cube mold to freeze it. Later, you can drop the frozen cubes into soup as a flavor booster, or just microwave and re-use as fresh.
Here are some recipes for chimichurri to get you inspired. Next, read through my rules, steps, and guidelines so the next time you make a chimichurri, you won’t need to follow a recipe, and you can build your own version to your tastes and pantry.
Argentine Chimichurri Sauce (via Chow) – This one is very traditional and features only parsley and oregano.
Chimichurri Sauce (Via Bonappetit) – This one is the recipe pictured in this post. It uses a mix of parsley, cilantro and oregano. It also includes a shallot, which might inspire you to add some red onion to your own batch.
Mark Bittman’s Chimichurri Sauce (via Food & Wine) – This one uses parsley as the only herb but switches out the traditional vinegar for lemon juice. Another acid idea: orange juice.
Chimichurri Sauce (via Martha Stewart) – Martha goes a little off the rails here by using parsley, basil, chives, dill, and mint. Her only acid is some lemon zest. for those not looking for much tang this might be a great option. This combo of herbs feels so incredibly spring to me and would be so good atop small roasted potatoes and asparagus.
So the traditional recipe for chimichurri is simply parsley, garlic, fresh oregano, red wine vinegar, salt & pep, olive oil, and red pepper flakes but feel free to play around with the herb choice, acid, and heat source.
Core Chimichurri Ingredients (makes about 1 to 1 ½ cups)
- 3/4 to 1 cup Olive Oil
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups Parsley/Cilantro/Herb mix
- ¼ to ½ cup acid (vinegar, lemon, etc.)
- 3-4 gloves garlic
- A teaspoon or two of heat (mined peppers, red pepper flakes, sriracha, etc.)
Core Chimichurri Steps
- Add all ingredients minus the oil to a food processor and pulse until finely minced
- Slowly drizzle in oil, pulsing the food processor at the same time. Take the time to scrap down the sides with a spatula every so often
- Allow to rest/chill for at least an hour
(you could use a mortar and pestle or just a sharp knife and some patience if you dont have a food processor)
Core Chimichurri Rules & Guidelines
- Use soft herbs (parsley, cilantro, basil,) not hard (rosemary, sage). Hard herbs wont break up enough in the food processor and the end result might be grainy or (in the case of rosemary) stabby.
- Keep things nice and tangy by adding in enough acid (ie: vinegar, lemon juice, etc.)
- Make sure you add enough oil. You want the herbs to be swimming in oil a little bit. It should not be so dry that it could be called a paste
- Allow the sauce to rest before using. This allows the herb flavors to really develop and mellows out the acid a bit
- Blend to your desired smoothness. There are no hard and fast rules on how mined your sauce should be. You could leave it pretty chunky or puree until nearly smooth, whatever feels good to you.
- As with everything, always taste your sauce and adjust the salt, pepper, and acid to your liking.
As is the point of this blog, I encourage you to use the info above to get creative and come up with your own version of Chimichurri and ways of using it. Next week I’ll show you how I’ve taken the core ingredients and techniques to make a chimichurri all my own.