Chimichurri Is The Versatile Salad Dressing You Never Knew You Needed

A few sauces are indispensable to any canny home cook because they're basically gifts from heaven sent to make everything better (we're looking at you, gochujang!). Chief among these sauces — especially in those months when fresh produce is all around us — is chimichurri: A bright, zingy, herbal South American creation typically used to garnish churrasco, otherwise known as grilled beef. But, the minute you get a taste of chimichurri, you're going to want to use it in lots of different ways. Right off the bat, try using it as your next salad dressing. For a condiment with so few ingredients, the complexity chimichurri can give to even a simple bowl of mixed greens will amaze you.

Chimichurri's base is an emulsion of red wine vinegar and olive oil, so it's not much of a stretch to use it as a dressing. Even better, it can be whipped up in minutes using a food processor. Perhaps best of all, you can tailor the chimichurri recipe to your own preferences. Will cilantro feel out of place on this particular mix of greens and veggies? Use flat-leaf parsley instead! Are you not into your side salad having such a spicy kick? Limit the red chili flakes or sub out sweet paprika. Now, see how well it pairs with a Cobb salad or even a bowl of sliced cucumbers and cherry tomatoes. 

Making and using chimichurri

A basic chimichurri recipe includes red wine vinegar, olive oil, herbs, garlic, and spices. Cilantro is often used along with (or substituted by) Italian parsley. Fresh or dried oregano is traditionally included, as are whole or ground cumin seeds, dried red pepper flakes, and salt (with optional black pepper). If you don't have the time (or a mortar and pestle) to make it old school, simply stem and shred the herb leaves, peel some garlic, and toss all the ingredients (except the olive oil!) into a food processor, pulsing in order to chop them finely. Then, slowly pour in the oil while processing to produce a yummy green emulsion. If you don't devour the chimichurri immediately, it will keep for almost a month in the refrigerator if stored in a tightly sealed container.

Once you've mastered the method of creating the sauce, go crazy with it. Chimichurri makes a dynamite dressing for a wide variety of salads as well as an utterly delicious garnish for grilled flank steak. The good news is that it's amazing on anything grilled and is equally wonderful when employed as a marinade for roast chicken or used as a condiment on fish tacos. We could all use some more tangy herbaceousness in our lives, so have at it.