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Dressing up a tasty treat.

Byline: Michael Kilkie

Today's recipe for salsa verde is one of the most simple and versatile sauces you are likely to come across. It's easy to make, requires no cooking, and packs a real flavour punch. It can also be used for much more than just a sauce. With a wee bit of tinkering, it also makes a delicious dressing for things such as potato salad.

Salsa verde translates as green sauce, which, as you'll see is the perfect name for it once you've made it. It might look similar to pesto - in fact, the method involved in making it isn't a million miles away, but the taste is pretty different.

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to making salsa verde and depending on which cookery book or magazine you look at, you will come across various recipes for it. The one common denominator is fresh, soft, green herbs. When I say soft herbs I mean herbs that are soft to the touch such as parsley, basil, mint, tarragon and coriander as opposed to hard herbs such as rosemary, thyme and bay leaf. You should always remember to keep their fresh, vibrant flavour and colour. Soft herbs should be added at the end of cooking, or used in a dish like today's that doesn't require cooking.

Hard herbs are better used in cooked dishes and added early to release their flavours throughout cooking. Along with the mixture of soft herbs there are a handful of other ingredients which you can add.

Most recipes will include all of or at least some of these: basil, parsley, mint, tarragon, garlic, vinegar, capers, gherkins, anchovies and mustard. I like to use all of the above apart from when I'm making it at home, when I leave out the anchovies as my wife's a vegetarian.

Today I've shown you how to use the salsa verde with a piece of simply cooked halibut with some lightly-crushed baby new potatoes, a few chopped chives and a bit of butter. In the circles I have given you another couple of ideas on how to use your salsa verde.

For a bit of a variation, there are a few other things you can add to change the taste slightly. I like to add sun blushed tomatoes to the salsa verde along with some chopped red chillies, this gives it a nice kick. I f I was doing this, I would probably leave out the tarragon and mint and just use the basil and parsley. You cou ld then add some freshly-grated parmesan to it. This makes a great spicy sauce that's delicious mixed through hot pasta.

If you're making salads to go with your barbecue, salsa verde i s a great fo undation for a potato salad. Boil baby new potatoes then drain and allow to cool. Simply mix the potato es with the salsa verde or, alternatively, mix the salsa verde with a c ouple of tablespoons of crme fraiche or soured cream and then mix through the potatoes.

Q&A

Q When I was out for dinner I had some chicken that was done in crumbs. But these crumbs were really different - crunchy and looked almost like flakes. Any idea what they were? AIt sounds like panko breadcrumbs, which are used a lot in Japanese cookery. Available in larger supermarkets.

Q I'm not too keen on dates, but I would like to have a go at making sticky toffee pudding. Can I use anything else? AIf you like raisins or currants, you could use them instead. However, dates work best for sticky toffee pudding.

Q I had a potato with my duck breast when I was out for a meal. It was barrel-shaped and really tender with a slightly crispy top, what was it? AIt's almost certainly a fondant potato, which is cooked in the oven half submerged in stock so its half braised and half roasted.

Q I had a beautiful cheese which was really buttery and rolled in oats. What was it? AIt sounds like caboc, which is butter like and you get a variety that is rolled in pinhead oatmeal.

Q How do I get a nice crispy exterior on my oven baked potatoes? ARub your potatoes in olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Pierce and bake. Start at a high temperature for 10 minutes and then lower slightly.

Q I can never get a crisp outside on a steak when I cook it at home. How can I do this? AMake sure the pan is smoking hot and then cook for a minute either side before turning the heat down.

Salsa verde (with fillet of halibut and crushed potatoes)

Enough for six with some left over 2 cloves garlic crushed 1 tbsp capers drained 1 tbsp small gherkins 3 anchovy fillets (optional) ' pack fresh mint leaves ' pack fresh basil leaves ' pack fresh parsley leaves ' pack fresh tarragon leaves 2 tsp Dijon mustard 2 tbsp white wine vinegar Juice and zest of 1 lemon 100 ml extra virgin olive oil Pinch of caster sugar Salt and pepper to taste To make the salsa verde, you can opt to do it in two ways. Either blitz together all the ingredients in a food processor to get a smoother sauce or, if you prefer it to be coarse, simply finely chop all the dry ingredients by hand and then in a bowl mix together with all the wet ingredients. 6 x 160-180g halibut fillets 2 tbsp olive oil Salt and pepper Season the halibut fillets well and then fry in the olive oil for about 6-8 minutes depending on their thickness, turning once until just cooked through. 500g baby new potatoes 1 tbsp chopped fresh chives 50g butter Salt and pepper to taste Boil the potatoes until tender, then drain and lightly crush with a fork. Mix through the chives, butter and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve the halibut with the potatoes and the salsa verde.

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Perfect baked potato
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:May 23, 2010
Words:1004
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