Green Sauce, 4 Ways

Burcu Avsar & Zach DeSart

Simpler, purer, less complex than traditional pesto, parsley purée is — to me at least — even more useful. For one thing, you can find decent parsley year-round. For another, it’s a brighter, fresher purée and therefore less specific in its uses. And, as you can see from the variations, different herbs work equally well.

Makes: About 1 cup
Time: 20 minutes


  • 2 cups lightly packed fresh parsley leaves (thin stems are okay)

  • Salt

  • 1/2 clove garlic, or more to taste

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, or more as needed

  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar or fresh lemon juice


1. Put the parsley with a pinch salt, the garlic, and about half the oil in a food processor or blender. Process, stopping to scrape down the side of the container if necessary, and adding the rest of the oil gradually.

2. Add the vinegar, then a little more oil or some water if you prefer a thinner mixture. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve or cover and refrigerate for up to a couple of days.

Cilantro Purée, Dill Purée, Basil Purée, or Mint Purée

These are good; they’re especially great with grilled vegetables: Substitute any of these herbs (leaves only or very thin stems too) for the parsley.


Very strong: Use 3 or more cloves garlic, 2 tablespoons vinegar or lemon juice, and at least 1 teaspoon red chile flakes. Do not refrigerate.

Green Olive Mojo

Intense: Reduce the olive oil to 1/4 cup; use 1/4 cup fresh lime juice, or to taste, in place of the vinegar. After puréeing, use the food processor to pulse in 1 cup pitted green olives; or chop the olives by hand and add them. In any case, do not purée them.

Recipe from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian (Photo: Burcu Avsar & Zach DeSart)