I was first introduced to this fresh, spicy green condiment at Sangria Grille, a farm-to-table restaurant in Moscow, Idaho. For years, my family and I thought the base of the sauce must be cilantro, so we experimented and made some excellent cilantro-based sauces. Then, one day I was speaking to George Skandalos, co-owner of Sangria, and he said the sauce is made from lettuce! Woohoo! Mystery solved.
Here is a simple recipe for Peruvian Aji Verde (green sauce). I can’t say its as good as Sangria’s, but it’s a close second!
1 head of Romaine lettuce
1 cup fresh cilantro
Handful of chives (or 4 green onions)
2 seeded fresh jalapenos
1 unseeded fresh jalapeno
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon rice or white vinegar
Fresh juice from 2 limes
¾ cup mayonnaise
¾ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
Rinse lettuce, trim, and discard lettuce stems. Rinse cilantro and remove stems. Combine lettuce, cilantro, chives, jalapenos, garlic, lime juice and vinegar in a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth. Add mayonnaise and cumin. Blend thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Drizzle the sauce on salads, rice, grilled meat, fish or vegetables. Delicious!
Store sauce in a jar with a tight fitting lid in the refrigerator. Sauce will keep for up to 1 week.
Colette DePhelps is, above all, a local food enthusiast. At home or abroad, she searches out and enjoys preparing and eating local, seasonal cuisine. Now, at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she is busy preparing, eating and preserving the veggies from her two CSA subscriptions. Colette serves Idaho’s ten northern counties as a Community Food Systems Area Educator with University of Idaho Extension.