Some recipe names can be mysterious and intimidating. I have always felt that using exotic names like “baba ghanoush”, “tzatziki”, or “chimichuri” made me sound smart and worldly. But in reality, these are just combinations of common ingredients you can find in your local grocery store. So, why not give them a more descriptive name? It might incite more people to try them… That’s why I called this recipe Spicy cilantro and parsley green sauce, instead of calling it Zhug!
Zhug is a Middle Eastern sauce (originally from Yemen) that is supposed to be quite fiery. The heat comes from chili peppers like jalapeno or serrano, that are used whole, including membranes and seeds. In case you didn’t know that, the membrane (inner white pith or rib) is where most of the capsaicin is found (capsaicin is the chemical compound that contains the fiery heat). This sauce isn’t for the faint of heart, but you can dial the heat up or down to your taste.
It’s super fast to make, no cooking involved and just a quick zap in the food processor is needed.
Fresh herbs are the base of this spicy cilantro and parsley green sauce. No need to measure them precisely, just grab a big handful of each: cilantro and parsley.
You can use jalapeno or serrano peppers. Jalapenos are a bit milder. Just remove the stem and slice the pepper in large chunks. The whole pepper goes in the blender, membrane and seeds included! If you are timid with hot sauces, start with only one jalapeno. If you like it, build up the courage to add two. Or more… This sauce is supposed to be hot and used as a condiment. And it’s addictive…
The other ingredients are a few cloves of garlic, the juice of a lemon, and some warm spices (cardamom is what gives this sauce its unique flavor). And to marry it all together, some good extra virgin olive oil. I recommend whisking the oil into the chopped greens outside the food processor, as the heat from the blades can cause the oil to taste bitter.
How to use this sauce
It goes with everything. Really. Like any other green sauce. From vegetables to fish, meats or eggs. Tossed into grains or pasta. And why not go even wilder and drizzle some on fruit like mango or pineapple? I know, it sounds a bit crazy, but you’d be surprised how good it turns out.
So, grab your food processor and make this. You’ll thank me later.
Try these other recipes:
Spicy cilantro and parsley green sauce (zhug)
- 1 handful fresh cilantro
- 1 handful fresh parsley
- 4 cloves garlic chopped coarsely
- 2 jalapenos sliced whole with seeds
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Place all except the olive oil in the bowl of your food processor.
- Pulse until everything is finely chopped, stopping to scrape the sides as needed.
- Remove to a bowl. Whisk in the olive oil.
- Let sit for 15 to 30 minutes to let the flavors marry. Serve at room temperature
- This will keep in an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to a week. It can also be frozen. Bring back to room temperature before using.
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