The secret’s in the sauce

| 30 Aug 2017 | 12:44

Want to elevate your cooking to the next level? Perfect a few good sauces. Sauces enhance food, adding flavor, texture and color, and correct a variety of culinary sins. Since September is Eat Local With Dirt*, I’m crafting a pungent chimichurri sauce using herbs grown steps from my kitchen window.

This tangy parsley based chimichurri, a staple in Argentinian cuisine, is traditionally served with grilled meats, but as I discovered, also pairs well with vegetables. Not only am I bringing chimichurri to my vegan table, I’m packing it with oregano, thyme and cilantro. The finely chopped herbs, garlic and crushed red pepper get a pop of acidity from sherry vinegar stirred in just before serving.

Chimichurri adds a complexity to grilled and roasted vegetables, especially sturdy brassicas. Take a trip to a local farm where you’ll find yellow, purple, green and white heads of cauliflower. Roasting the whole head brings out a subtle sweetness and nuttiness that you won’t attain with other preparations. The outside curd turns brown and crisp while the inside remains tender and juicy.

Present the roast whole, and carve at the table served with a side of roasted rainbow carrots and plenty of chimichurri sauce.

Four herb chimichurri

1/2 cup parsley

1/2 cup cilantro

2 tablespoons fresh oregano

1 tablespoon fresh thyme

1 clove garlic

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Salt and pepper

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

Place parsley, cilantro, oregano, thyme and garlic in a food processor and pulse until finely minced. You can also hand chop the herbs and garlic.

Remove to a bowl. Add crushed red pepper, salt and pepper to taste and olive oil. Stir to combine. Thin with water to desired consistency. Stir in vinegar just before serving.

Whole roasted cauliflower

1 head of cauliflower

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Remove the outer leaves of the cauliflower. Cut off the bottom of the stem making sure not to cut through the florets. Rub the entire head with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Place the cauliflower in a cast iron or sheet pan and roast uncovered for an hour or until golden brown and fork tender. Remove from heat and serve whole with chimichurri sauce.

* Join us in sourcing your food from a 250-mile radius for a month, a week or a day.