Chimichurri sauce; tomato and jalapeño salad
FoodComplementing meat

Chimichurri sauce; tomato and jalapeño salad

Summer sides

Tomato and jalapeño salad
(Photo by Jessica Grann)
Tomato and jalapeño salad (Photo by Jessica Grann)

Grilling season is in full swing, and we’re outside making dinner most nights of the week. My husband loves grilling so he takes all of the credit on that front, but I usually make the salads and sides that complement his cooking.

I don’t generally cook with marinades because I really like the taste of the meat to shine through, but I am a big fan of salsas and salads to add flavor and acidity to the meal. Chimichurri sauce is a South American condiment that adds a punch to grilled beef and chicken. You can adjust the level of heat and use only parsley if you don’t care for cilantro. I like to make this recipe with half parsley and half cilantro. Choose your favorite cut of meat and grill it to your preference. A spoonful of this on the side is one of the simple pleasures in life!

Chimichurri sauce (Photo by Jessica Grann)
Chimichurri sauce

1 bunch parsley (use 2 bunches if you omit the cilantro)
1 bunch cilantro (a bunch is about 20 stems)
4 cloves garlic
Half an onion, roughly chopped
1-2 jalapeños with seeds, stemmed and sliced in half
1 rounded tablespoon dried oregano
½ cup red wine vinegar
½ cup olive oil
1 rounded teaspoon kosher salt

To avoid spending an hour finely mincing vegetables, use a blender or food processor to do the hard work for you. Put the onion, whole garlic cloves and one jalapeño into the blender or food processor bowl and pulse until the pieces are finely chopped.

Add one bunch of parsley, with stems, and pulse it until the leaves reduce.

Add the cilantro, with stems, (or the second bunch of parsley) and pulse it until the leaves reduce.

Add the salt, oregano and red wine vinegar and pulse until well blended. Taste test to see if you’d like to add in a second jalapeño. I find that their level of heat varies and often a second one is needed, but sometimes one is spicy enough to do the job.

There are two ways to add the olive oil, which yield different results. The more traditional way is to mix the olive oil in by hand. The leaves will fall to the bottom so you will always need to give it a stir when serving. The Brazilian way is to add the olive oil last into the food processor and pulse until the mixture is emulsified. I usually prepare it this way because the oil doesn’t separate (see photo). It makes for a thicker sauce and seems less oily on your plate. Either way, it tastes amazing and it keeps for up to a month in the fridge.

Tomato and jalapeño salad

This is a simple tomato salad that is typical in the Middle East. If you like peppers, it’s a great way to spice up a plain tomato salad. I use only a drizzle of olive oil in most of my salads, so they are super-healthy and great to have on hand and ready to eat.

You can use any kind of tomato — Romas and cherry tomatoes work great, but both stem and beefsteak tomatoes work as well; just expect more liquid in the bowl.

2 cups chopped tomatoes (for cherry tomatoes, slice them in half once)
Half of one jalapeño, about 1 tablespoon, stemmed and minced — reserve the seeds
1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice, more to taste
A drizzle of olive oil (less than a tablespoon)
A sprinkle of sea salt

In a medium-sized bowl, add the tomatoes, jalapeño, lemon juice, salt and olive oil and gently turn it a few times until the tomatoes look well coated. I don’t typically add the jalapeño seeds until I taste test the salad to see if it has enough heat. If you feel that you’d like more, add about ⅛ teaspoon of seeds to the salad.

As a variation you could also add in a whole, diced avocado, giving this salad more of a Latin flavor.

Enjoy and bless your hands! PJC

Jessica Grann is a home chef living in Pittsburgh.

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