When the fog settles into our valley for the winter and the days grow short and dark, I find two easy ways to instantly lift my mood: dressing in colorful clothes and eating bright, bold, and colorful food. If you liked this chimichurri or green sauce with lentils and roasted carrots or you appreciate the bright, bold flavors of Mexican salsas (such as tomatillo), herb-heavy Indian chutneys, or Zhoug, the Yemenite green sauce often found in falafels, you're going to love this salsa. Think of it as pesto's wilder cousin from Mexico or a cheat's salsa verde. It's a zesty "high-flavor condiment" I like to keep in the fridge as one of the three make-ahead strategies I use to bring meals together quickly during the week. It can be whizzed up in three minutes and it repays me throughout the week. I stir it into lentil soups, drizzle it over steamed or roasted vegetables, eggs, avocado toast, and use it to finish off tacos and quinoa bowls.
Most recently it found its way onto huevos rancheros and Mexican pizza, which I've included a loose guideline to assemble below. The orange layer you're seeing is pureed red kuri squash, one of my winter immunity tools. This time of year I like to steam red kuri or butternut squash and blend or mash it into a puree with olive oil, salt, and pepper. The bright orange color of winter squash and pumpkin means it's high in caratenoids, an antioxidant that boosts immunity. Plus its rich fiber content makes it a "slow-burning" carb, helping to balance blood sugar and curb cravings. But nutrients aside, I love this puree because it creates a fabulously creamy base for pizza, wraps, pittas, soups, or dolloped over grains.
Whether you're heading into winter or summer though, this green salsa does not discriminate, and I hope you'll give it a try. If you do, leave a comment below and tell me your favorite way you're enjoying it!
Green Salsa (aka Cheat's Salsa Verde)
Yields 1/2 cup (120 ml) salsa
Notes: This is a thinner sauce but it thickens a little once stored in the fridge. Unless stated otherwise, as in all my recipes jalapeno can be substituted for red chili if it's easier to find. But start with less to test for spice.
- 1 small bunch cilantro, leaves + tender stems (~ 1/2 cup packed or 12 gr.)
- 1 small-medium scallion, roughly chopped
- 1 garlic clove, smashed
- 1 red chili (or 1/2 of a chili if you like it less spicy), roughly chopped
- Juice of 1 small juicy lime
- 1 tsp. honey
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- Scant 1/4 cup (60 ml) water
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
- Add first four ingredients (through chili) to a small food processor. Pulse a few times, then add remaining ingredients.
- Blend until you reach a smooth consistency and olive oil has emulsified and thickened the sauce slightly.
Huevos Racheros or Mexican Pizza
*Notes: Use this as a loose guideline for assembly. Adjust ingredients to your liking. At the least a tortilla topped with smashed beans, avocado, and green salsa makes a delicious fast meal. This would also make a great brunch spread. Lay out all toppings, make eggs to order, and let guests build their own huevos rancheros or mexican pizzas.
- Corn tortillas, blistered a few minutes on each side in a skillet
- Cooked beans, whole or mashed with a fork and seasoned (barlotti, pinto, black, or adzuki)
- Winter squash or pumpkin puree, seasoned (red kuri, hokkaido, kabocha, or butternut)*
- Avocado, sliced
- Egg: fried, poached, scrambled
- Crumbled cheese: feta, queso fresco, or cotija
- Green Salsa
- Blister tortillas in a skillet.
- Spread a layer of squash puree and beans over a tortilla.
- Top with egg (if using) and your choice of any or all toppings: avocado, cheese, and green salsa.
*Making your own winter squash or pumpkin puree: When pureeing I prefer to steam squash because it locks in the moisture and prevents the puree from drying out. (But see here if you prefer to roast). I usually use red kuri because it's easy to find here. For quick work simply halve, scoop out seeds, cut each half into four slices, and steam in a large pot with skin on until completely soft. Remove the skin and puree in a food processor, intermittently stopping to break down bigger chunks with a spatula, and adding a splash of water or olive oil if it's too dry. For butternut squash, peel, chop into cubes, and steam. Since it's softer you can either mash with a fork or blend in a food processor.