Italian Salsa Verde

Italian Salsa Verde with bread
Italian Salsa Verde with bread.

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  • Total: 20 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Serving: 1 to 2 servings

Salsa verde (which translates literally to mean "green sauce" in Italian) is a magical condiment that transforms any number of otherwise bland dishes. It adds a wonderful piquant zest to grilled or stewed fish, boiled or grilled meats, vegetable dishes, and boiled or baked potatoes. It can also be served as a dipping sauce with raw vegetables or crusty bread or spooned over hard-boiled egg halves as an appetizer or party finger food.

It is a chilled, no-cook sauce made by finely chopping fresh, flat-leaf parsley (and sometimes other fresh green herbs) and mixing it with garlic, capers, and anchovies.

Note that although salsa verde is called the same thing and means the same thing in Spanish, the salsa verde of Italy has nothing to do with the Mexican salsa verde (made with tomatillos) or the salsa verde of Spain (made with fish stock, fried garlic, and flour). Italian salsa verde is somewhat similar to Argentinian chimichurri, a green sauce often served with grilled meats, but the ingredients and origins are different.

It is the traditional accompaniment for a number of classic Italian dishes including bollito misto alla piemontese (Piedmont-style boiled dinner) and caponata di pesce (fish salad).


  • 2 ounces (50 g) anchovy fillets (rinsed and boned)
  • 1 ounce (25 g) salted capers (rinsed, soaked briefly in warm water, and drained)
  • Optional: 1 ounce (25 g) canned olive-oil-packed yellowfin tuna
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 large bunch flat-leaf parsley (minced)
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup good-quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • Optional: vinegar or fresh-squeezed lemon juice (to taste)
  • Optional: fine sea salt (to taste)
  • Optional: freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
  • Garnish: fresh mint, basil, or thyme (minced)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. In a food processor, combine the anchovies, capers, tuna (if using), garlic, parsley, and vinegar, blending until the leaves are finely minced and the texture is fairly creamy. Pour in the olive oil and mix using short bursts until the sauce is a creamy yellow-green color. Check seasoning and add salt if needed.


  • Sauce consistency: The consistency of the sauce should be fairly liquid, though not watery; add a little broth if it is too thick. If it is too watery, you can thicken it with breadcrumbs or cubed bread that has been soaked in fresh lemon juice or vinegar. The sauce emulsifies with olive oil as an ingredient.
  • Instead of tuna: If you chose not to include the tuna, increase the capers and anchovies by a proportionate amount.

Recipe Variations

  • Other herbs: Keep in mind that the primary ingredient should be parsley, but you can consider adding some other fresh herbs like basil, thyme, or mint.
  • Other optional ingredients: For more variety, you can add hard-boiled eggs or mustard.