Salsa Verde, called "bagnet" in Piemontese and which means sauce in English, is a sauce from Piedmont that is traditionally used as an accompaniment to the Bagna Cauda, one of the typical dishes of Piedmont Italy. It is also often used to complement meat dishes and works well with beef and lamb. When used to accompany meat, the anchovies are sometimes left out, or if you are a vegetarian, you can leave them out too.
In the original recipe, only garlic, anchovies, breadcrumbs, parsley, and vinegar were used, plus a drizzle of olive oil. I have changed that a little and turned it into a stand-alone dish, plus I have added a small, hot chili, which is not traditional and can be left out. Capers and gherkins are occasionally added as well, if you wish to add them add a few according to your own tastes.
Piedmont, in Italy's top north west corner, borders onto the coastal region of Liguria (the Italian Riviera).
There are some pretty big mountains between the two regions, and long ago it was quite a journey, particularly during winter. As a result, it was always a time of great excitement when anchovies, carefully preserved in salt, finally arrived from the coast, and this is the "celebration dish" that resulted.
I've got to tell you that whenever Maria (my wife) makes this dish, I too feel like celebrating. I just love anchovies and sardines (here's my favorite sardine recipe), and better still, they are very good for you too and an important part of the Mediterranean diet.
Okay, anchovies are great, but what about "green sauce?" I hear you ask. Yes, I know "green sauce" doesn't sound too appetizing, but wait until you try it!
10 anchovies in salt, never use those in oil
1 bunch of Italian flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons of breadcrumbs
Two handfuls of fresh basil leaves
1 pepperoncino (small hot chili)
1 hard boiled egg yolk
1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar
1/2 cup of good virgin olive oil (106 grams)
A squeeze of lemon juice
1 clove of garlic
1) Wash the anchovies very well under cold running water to remove the salt. Remove the bones and allow the anchovies to dry.
2) Cook the garlic cloves in boiling water for 3 minutes. Squeeze the garlic out of the skins, put into a food processor with all the other ingredients, except the anchovies, and whiz until smooth and fluffy. The salsa verde has to have a thick consistency.
3) Put a little of the sauce onto a serving dish and layer the anchovies over it. Put some more sauce on top and keep on adding layers until the sauce or anchovies are all finished.
Let the final dish stand at room temperature for at least 1 or 2 hours to allow the flavors to meld.
Serve with a good quality bread. I enjoy it with Ciabatta