11 Foolproof Steps to Salsa Verde

By the editors of Cook's Illustrated

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This versatile sauce makes any savory dish much more interesting.

Salsa Verde is a pureed sauce made by grinding parsley, capers, anchovies, lemon juice, and olive oil into a smooth puree. While its flavors—umami-rich and savory—are bold and appealing, its versatility is our favorite aspect of Salsa Verde. This simple Italian sauce can be served with grilled or roasted meat, fish or poultry; poached fish; boiled or steamed new potatoes; sliced tomatoes; or on sandwiches.

We find that a slice of white sandwich bread (dried out slightly in a toaster) is the key to creating a sauce that doesn’t separate. The bread also mellows out the potent flavors and helps create balance. And be sure to use a high-quality olive oil: In such a simple (and uncooked) sauce, the quality of the ingredients really matters. This recipe is the place to use that pricey oil.

When it comes to parsley, you’ll find two types in your grocery store—curly-leaf and flat-leaf (also called Italian). Curly-leaf parsley is the most popular, but in our test kitchen flat-leaf is by far the favorite. We find flat-leaf to have a sweet, bright flavor that's much preferable to the bitter, grassy tones of curly-leaf (flat-leaf is also much more fragrant than its curly cousin).

Once you master this recipe, you can use the same basic technique to make countless pureed sauces, including pestos, vegetable-based spreads, and hummus.


1. Juice 1 lemon to obtain 2 tablespoons.

2. Wash and dry 2 cups parsley.

3. Drain 2 tablespoons capers to remove all liquid.

4. Peel and mince 1 small garlic clove. You should have 1/2 teaspoon.

5. Toast 1 slice white sandwich bread in toaster at low setting until surface is dry but not browned, about 15 seconds.

6. Remove crust and cut bread into rough 1/2-inch pieces. You should have about 1/2 cup.

7. Process bread pieces, 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, and lemon juice in food processor until smooth, about 10 seconds.

8. Add parsley, 2 anchovy fillets, capers, garlic, and 1/8 teaspoon salt.

9. Pulse until mixture is finely chopped (mixture should not be smooth), about five 1-second pulses.

10. Scrape down bowl with rubber spatula after 3 pulses.

11. Transfer mixture to small bowl and serve. This all-purpose green sauce is the perfect way to dress up multiple savory dishes.


Our recipe is versatile, easy to make, and a key jumping-off point for making all sorts of other sauces, like pesto and hummus.

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