Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Chimichurri: Packed with Nutrients, Not Calories

You may know parsley as a garnish on your plate at a restaurant; you probably don't even eat it. But did you know that it's a nutritional powerhouse? A two-tablespoon serving of raw parsley only has about three calories yet it has 12% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin A in the form of beta carotene, 16% of your Vitamin C, and over 150% of your Vitamin K. All of these - as well as folic acid, calcium and iron, also in parsley - are crucial whether you're pregnant or breastfeeding or just aiming for general good health.

So, how to incorporate this verdant herb into your diet? Certainly you can add it chopped to just about anything. Or you can make chimichurri, a delicious green sauce used traditionally as a marinade or topping for meats (but delicious on lots of other foods, too). It's easy, inexpensive and crazy tasty. Here's my version:

Ingredients:
  • one bunch flat-leaf (aka Italian) parsley
  • 4 large cloves garlic
  • juice of one lime
  • 3T red wine vinegar
  • 1/4c extra virgin olive oil
  • 1t salt (or more, to taste)
  • large pinch of red pepper flakes


Immediately before using, wash your parsley well; it can be sandy. Shake off excess water.
Peel cloves of garlic and toss in the food processor. I should note that my cloves were quite large. If they were smaller, I'd use 5-6 cloves. This should be garlicky! (And, of course, garlic offers its own nutritional benefits: it's a great source of manganese, and a good source of vitamin B6, vitamin C, and selenium.)
Chop garlic. It doesn't have to be perfect as we'll be processing it more once the parsley is added.
Pack the food processor with the parsley.
Start chopping.
Process until the garlic and parsley are both finely chopped. Add the juice of one lime,
the red wine vinegar,

and the EVOO.
Toss in the salt and the red pepper flakes.
Pulse until everything is well combined. Adjust seasonings to taste. Let the chimichurri sit for at least 30 minutes (preferably a few hours) in order for the flavors to meld. I made it for my sister's birthday - she requested a steak dinner, a rarity for my family - and everyone raved. Said my husband: "We should have a vat of this in the fridge at all times, so I can put it on everything I eat."
But this nutrient-dense, low-calorie sauce isn't just for meat. Use it as a dip for hot oven fries. Toss it with pasta or brown rice, spoon it over grilled portobellos or zucchini or a baked sweet potato. I did the latter and it was AMAZING. When the raw sauce hits the hot potato, it smells fantastic and is a fabulous balance of savory and sweet.
So, start keeping a vat of chimichurri in your fridge. And start eating that parsley garnish when you're out to dinner, too!

8 comments:

  1. I never had this before Justine posted this recipe. OMG so delicious. Being the carnivores we are we had it on a sirloin steak, It gave so much kick to the meat, my tongue just fell in love. G
    reat recipes, keep them coming. 

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  2. Thanks, so glad you enjoyed it!

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  3. Glad my timing is so in tune with your CSA loot! Let me know what you think if you try it.

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  4. A perfect recipe for the flat leaf parsley that came in our CSA box this week, as well as the garlic from last week's box.  And farmer's market limes.  Thanks so much!

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  5. I wonder if it's true....Whatever, it tastes freakin' GOOD.

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  6. As the potential spouse of an Argentine hottie, I always keep some homemade chimichurri in the fridge. The story of how chimichurri got it's name is also fascinating! An Irishmen Jimmy McCurry who was marching with General Belgrano during the fight for Argentine independence concocted it, but the locals had problems with his name and butchered it, thus "Chimichurri." Or so the legend goes.

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  7. As the potential spouse of an Argentine hottie, I always keep some homemade chimichurri in the fridge.  It's so easy to prepare and packs a good punch.  Sometimes, I even spread some on tuna before giving them a quick flash on a hot pan.  It works great for cooking, though it probably breaks down some of the healthy benefits of the parsley.

    The story of how chimichurri got it's name is also fascinating!  An Irishmen Jimmy McCurry who was marching with General Belgrano during the fight for Argentine independence concocted it, but the locals had problems with his name and butchered it, thus "Chimichurri."  Or so the legend goes.

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  8. What are the calories in the sauce?

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