If you’ve never tried Italian salsa verde before, you will quickly develop a taste for this vibrant green sauce. It adds a herby zing to almost any dish and tastes incredible when paired with strong-tasting fish and meat. Just like peppered mackerel, this salsa verde recipe is simple and takes less than 15 minutes to make.
My partner and I were shown how to make salsa verde for fish as part of the seafood preparation class at Jamie Oliver’s Cookery School earlier this year. This delicious, Italian salsa verde recipe has been inspired by that zingy green sauce, with some modifications to make it more flavourful and easier to prepare at home.
The green sauce: what is salsa verde?
An Italian salsa verde is a thick, green sauce that is served cold with fish, meat, poultry and vegetables. The main ingredient is fresh parsley, but you will often find that it also contains lots of roughly chopped coriander or mint. The ingredients are coarsely chopped and usually contain baby capers, cornichons and garlic, mixed with dijon or English mustard, red wine vinegar and olive oil. Some regional variations of the sauce may also include small chunks of bread, onion and anchovies. Today it really depends on personal preference.
Italian salsa verde recipe: how to make salsa verde for fish
Making an Italian salsa verde for fish is easy and you can do it in less than 10 minutes. Start by preparing the herbs. Remove the leaves from two large sprigs of both fresh parsley and mint. You can get fresh herbs in most supermarkets or you can grow your own in the garden or in a pot on the window.
Roughly tear each leaf into 2-3 pieces. Place the torn leaves into a large pestle and mortar. Next, thickly slice a couple garlic cloves and chuck them in the bowl. Finally, add two teaspoons of baby capers and a couple inch-long cornichons. Pound the mixture together with the pestle for about one minute.
Add a dollop of dijon mustard, a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a splash of red wine vinegar. Grab the pestle and mash everything together for a minute or two, until you have a rough, saucy mixture. Give the salsa verde a taste. If it’s a bit thick, add a little more olive oil, but be careful not to overdo it.
Serve the salsa verde straightaway. It’s great with strong-tasting fish, seafood and grilled meats. It’s fantastic with a big fat, juicy steak and is exceptional with blackened salmon fillets.
A simple recipe for peppered mackerel
For a light dinner, peppered mackerel is hard to beat. It’s ridiculously quick to make, packed full of omega-3 oils and tastes fantastic. To make it, simply heat olive oil in a large pan over a high heat. Place the mackerel in the pan skin-down. Press the fillets for 10-15 seconds so that they don’t curl up.
Fry the mackerel for about 2-3 minutes until the skin is crispy. Meanwhile, sprinkle a teaspoon of roughly ground pepper over each fillet. Once the skin is crisp, turn the fillets over and fry for another two minutes. Finally, turn the heat off and let the mackerel sizzle away for another minute in the residual heat of the pan.
Plate the mackerel and serve with the salsa verde immediately. For a more substantial meal add some roast potatoes and a side of fresh salad. If you have some leftover herbs from preparing the salsa verde, you can even mix in a few leaves of fresh mint or parsley for an extra zing of flavour.
Peppered mackerel and Italian salsa verde recipe
- 2 large sprigs of fresh parsley
- 2 large sprigs of fresh mint
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2 tsp baby capers
- 2 cornichons
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 3 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp red wine vinegar
- 4 fillets of mackerel
- 4 tsp ground black pepper
- 4 tsp extra virgin olive oil
Remove the parsley and mint leaves and roughly tear each leaf into 2-3 pieces. Place into a large pestle and mortar.
Slice the garlic thickly and place in the mortar with the capers and cornichons. Pound the mixture together with the pestle for about one minute.
Add the dijon mustard, olive oil and red wine vinegar. Mash everything together for a minute or two. Taste the sauce and add a little more olive oil if it's too thick.
Serve the salsa verde cold and straightaway with the peppered mackerel.
Drizzle the olive oil into a large pan and put on a high heat. Place the mackerel in the pan skin-down. Press the fillets for 10-15 seconds so that it doesn’t curl up and fry for about 2-3 minutes until the skin is crispy.
Sprinkle a teaspoon of roughly ground pepper over the side of the fillet without skin. Once the skin is crisp, turn the fillets over and fry for another two minutes.
Switch the heat off and let the mackerel cook through for another minute in the pan. Serve immediately with the fresh salsa verde or eat the fish cold if you prefer.