Salsa verde, literally ‘green sauce’, is a quick, parsley-based raw condiment, intensely flavored with garlic, anchovies, capers, a dash of vinegar and, if you like, a pinch of hot red pepper, all bathed in fruity olive oil. It is a culinary cousin to other such sauces like the Sicilian salmoriglio or the Argentinian chimichurri and the Spanish mojo verde. It most often used as an accompaniment to boiled meats, but it has other uses as well. Hard-boiled eggs go particularly well with a drizzle of pungent salsa verde. It take only minutes to make, but the beautiful result is bound to impress, even at the fanciest of occasions.
And take note of this method for making hard-boiled eggs—rather than boiling them until done, they are brought to the boil, simmered for only a minute or two, then tightly covered and left to cook by residual heat. This gentle cooking makes for a perfect eggs every time. No more rubbery whites or green-tinged yolks!
Serves 4-6 as part of a buffet or antipasto spread
- 6 eggs
- A dash of white vinegar
For the sauce:
- 10 sprigs (or so) of fresh parsley, stems removed
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, peeled
- A heaping spoonful of capers, drained and rinsed
- 4-5 anchovy fillets
- A dash of white wine vinegar
- Salt and pepper
- A pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
- 3-4 cornichons (optional)
- 250 ml (1 cup) of olive oil, or as much as you need to reach the right consistency
To hard boil the eggs: Put the eggs in a saucepan with enough water to cover them by a good 3 cm/1 inch or more and (if you like) a dash of vinegar. Bring the eggs to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Let the eggs simmer for a minute or so. Turn off the heat and cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid. Let the eggs rest, covered, for 10 minutes or so (for medium eggs), 15 minutes for large or extra large eggs. You can let them rest for a few minutes longer if you want very firm eggs; personally, I like my yolks to have just a smidgen of runniness at the center.
When the eggs are done, drain them into a colander and run them immediately under cold water. Let them cool a bit before peeling them under running cold water. Made this way, they should peel quite easily, just crack them gently against the side of the sink and rub the shell off with your fingers as the running water carries the shell away.
Meanwhile, you can make your salsa verde: Place all the ingredients, minus the olive oil, in a food processor. Using the pulse function, chop them all into a fine mince. Then turn on the processor and pour in the olive oil, until you have reached a nice, ‘saucy’ consistency. The sauce should be thick but loose enough to be pourable. Taste for seasoning. The sauce should be very piquant; add more salt or pepper or other seasonings as suits your taste.
Cut the hard-boiled eggs in half using a wet slicing knife. Arrange on a plate and drizzle the green sauce over and around them. If you have some left over, you can serve it separately at table—it’s so delicious that guests often want more on their eggs.
Capers come either pickled in brine or dry and salted. In the States the pickled variety is much more common, even if the salted kind are said to be finer. But for this dish, either will do fine. If you do use the pickled variety, go easy on the vinegar.
Similarly, anchovies come as fillets packed in oil or whole, dry and salted. Again, the salted variety has finer taste and texture, but the most commonly found oil-packed kind are fine to be use here. The salt variety, which can be found in better Italian delis, should be rinsed well and filleted by hand, which is actually very easy to do. You can literally just pull the fillets off the center bone with your hands, under gently running water.
Salsa verde has a fair number of variations. It is not uncommon to mix in some crustless bread or the yolk of a hard-boiled egg to thicken the sauce. Personally, I like it unthickened, but since you’re making eggs anyway you can always make one extra and add the yolk to the sauce if you like. I also go very easy on the vinegar, and often I don’t use any, especially if I’m using capers and/or cornichons, which already add enough acidity for me. Anyway, take the ingredients and measurements as a guide, and feel free to vary them as you like. This sauce is very customizable. That’s the beauty of it.