My new book, Weeknight Gluten Free, is filled with recipes for luscious, naturally gluten-free sauces. One of my favorites is a vibrant pistachio and basil salsa verde. Salsa verde is an uncooked, fragrant mixture of olive oil and fresh herbs that takes only a few minutes to prepare. There are Italian, French, Spanish, Argentinian, and German versions. I use a full flavored extra-virgin olive oil, a little minced shallot, and lots of aromatic herbs as the base for many variations.
For the recipe in the book, I add a big handful of toasted pistachios and spoon the sauce over creamy buratta cheese and asparagus stalks. The idea for this dish came from my birthday dinner last year at Farmshop, a rustic yet sophisticated restaurant in Santa Monica that serves perfectly cooked, creative, farmers’ market inspired food.
The sauce is way too yummy to use only in this specific pairing. Like all the sauces in the book, this one can be served on lots of different items. We have enjoyed it over grilled Alaskan salmon, roasted arctic char, and sautéed chicken breasts. Carie at Wheatfree Mom tweeted that she served it over ricotta cheese, and I am eager to try this as an appetizer with crackers.
Being hooked on buratta and this sauce, I came up with a refreshing variation on the recipe in the book: I cut red and pale green Belgian endive spears into one-inch pieces, mounded them on plates and then topped the endive with burrata and the sauce. The subtle bitterness of the endive showed off the cheese, and the intense sauce enhanced both. This dish was even easier than the original, because nothing needed to be cooked. It would be great to serve at brunch or lunch, and you might consider it, or a variation of your own, for Mother’s Day.
Feel free to use different herbs when making salsa verde. Italian parsley or cilantro are good alternatives to basil, or start with parsley and then mix in a second piquant herb, like tarragon, thyme, mint, or chives. Acidic lemon, lime, orange, and capers are all effective additions, as are chili flakes or minced Serrano chili. The last time I made it, I used Thai basil that I had leftover in the fridge in place of the Italian, and it’s peppery, subtly anise flavor created a striking version. I’d love to hear any variations on this recipe you create.
Endive with Buratta and Pistachio Salsa Verde
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup finely chopped fresh basil
- ¼ cup finely chopped toasted salted pistachio nuts
- 2 tablespoons minced shallot
- Grated zest from ½ lemon
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 6 endive spears, preferably red and pale green, cut crosswise into 1-inch wide pieces
- 2 4- inch balls Burrata cheese, 1 8-oz package, drained
- Mix the oil, basil, pistachios, shallot, and lemon zest in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide the endive between 4 plates. Cut each ball of burrata in half and place one half atop the endive on each plate, arranging it cut side up. Spoon the salsa verde over the burrata and endive and serve.