That Green Stuff

chermoula2Last year I stumbled upon something delicious in my cooking adventures:  chermoula sauce.  Chermoula sauce is a blend of cilantro, parsley, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, spices and seasoning.  In some ways it’s like pesto without the nuts–just tons of flavorful herbs blended up into a green sauce that you can serve with just about anything.  It’s light, it’s flavorful and it’s not something you find every day at a restaurant, so it’s a surprising treat for your palate.

It’s also called by some people I’ve cooked for “that green stuff.”  My niece calls it “Hulk jizz.”  But I digress.

Chermoula is primarily from Algerian, Tunisian, and Moroccan cooking, at least that’s what Wikipedia says.   Like barbecue sauce or salad dressing, there are tons of variations of it.  You can look for recipes online and find tons of them, all slightly different.  Here’s my basic recipe:

  • 1 bunch of fresh cilantro, stems removed
  • 1 bunch of fresh italian (flat-leaf) parsley, stems removed
  • The juice from 1 large lemon (for tangier sauce, use the juice from two lemons!)
  • 8 small or 4 large cloves of garlic
  • 1 TBSP cumin seed, toasted in a dry frying pan until fragrant,  or,  1/2 TBSP ground cumin
  • 1/2 TBSP smoked paprika
  • 1/2 cup good quality olive oil
  • salt and freshly-cracked black pepper

(Listen…I know sometimes it’s tempting to use what you have in the kitchen rather than what is called for in a recipe.  I understand that and do it myself quite often.  But let me warn you that the chermoula3ingredients listed above are exactly what you need.  Don’t use dried herbs and don’t use lemon juice out of a bottle.  For heaven’s sake do NOT use dried garlic or garlic powder!)

Combine all those ingredients in a food processor until you have a smooth green sauce.  (For a more fluid sauce add more lemon juice.  For a thicker, more paste-like sauce, cut the olive oil back to 1/4 cup at first.  Process until smooth, and then add olive oil a little bit at a time until you get to the consistency you want.  For something spicy, add in a teaspoon of cayenne pepper.)

Chermoula is an amazing condiment for practically any meat.  Use a little, or a lot!  You can use it as a marinade (I especially love to soak pork tenderloin in it for a couple of days and then grill it–it is to die for!), a smothering sauce, a flavorful and colorful garnish on a plate, a topping for tacos, a salad dressing or even a dip.  It will keep for several days in the refrigerator once it’s made, but if you’re like me and my family it won’t last that long!