Fresh Herbs Make a Great Sauce

When I first learned to cook, using herbs meant garnishing dishes with parsley and using dried herbs in cooked dishes. Nobody ate the parsley sprigs—except me. If you wanted fresh herbs, you usually had to grow them and most of us bought dried dill and chives, not realizing how little their flavors resembled fresh.

For me, this changed when I lived in Paris in the early 1980s. At the local street market, Mme. Epice, as she was known (French for spice), sold every kind of herb fresh and I quickly learned how much better they taste compared to dried. When I complained that using fresh thyme was too much work, Madame explained that you could toss whole sprigs into the pot for soups and stews rather than laboriously picking off the leaves from the stem. At the end, you could just pick out the woody stems, as you would a bay leaf. Later on, traveling in Italy, I fell in love with two sharp green sauces made with fresh herbs: Salsa Verde, from northern Italy, includes parsley, anchovies, capers, garlic and vinegar. Salmoriglio, from Sicily, uses parsley, oregano, and garlic, plus lemon juice. Both are great with grilled, roasted or poached fish or chicken.

Recently, I created my own refreshing herb sauce, perfect for warm days. Simply whirl together fresh cilantro, basil, parsley and a chopped green chile with orange juice and a touch of low-fat mayonnaise until puréed.

Serve this bright green sauce with grilled, broiled or poached fish or chicken. It also makes a great dipping sauce to accompany boiled shrimp, as a change from the usual red cocktail sauce. With all we now know about the benefits of carotenoids and the concentration of other health-protecting phytonutrients in herbs, this sauce is a great way to use them generously.

Chilled Shrimp with Green Sauce - Makes 4 entrées or main servings, or 8 servings as an appetizer.

4 Tbsp. fresh orange juice
2 Tbsp. reduced-fat mayonnaise
1 cup cilantro leaves, packed
1/2 cup basil leaves, loosely packed
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, loosely packed
1 serrano chile pepper, seeded and chopped* Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
1 lb. medium shrimp, cooked, shelled and deveined

Place the orange juice and the mayonnaise in a blender or food processor. Add the cilantro, basil, parsley, and chile pepper. Process until the mixture is a pulpy purée. Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer it into a small bowl, cover and refrigerate until it is chilled and thickened, 3 hours to overnight. (Use within 24 hours.)

To serve, bring the sauce and the shrimp to room temperature. If using for hors d’oeuvres, transfer the sauce to a serving bowl and place in the center of a large serving plate.

For individual entrées, divide the sauce among 4 small bowls to place on 4 dinner plates. Arrange the shrimp around the bowls. For appetizers, use one large plate and bowl for a buffet-style meal, or use 8 small bowls and plates for individual servings.
*For a hotter sauce, do not seed the pepper.

Per main serving: 145 calories, 3 g. total fat (less than 1 g. saturated fat), 4 g. carbohydrate, 24 g. protein, less than 1 g. dietary fiber, 239 mg. sodium.

The Author:

“Something Different” is written by Dana Jacobi, author of 12 Best Foods Cookbook and contributor to AICR’s New American Plate Cookbook: Recipes for a Healthy Weight and a Healthy Life.

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. It has contributed more than $96 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. AICR has published two landmark reports that interpret the accumulated research in the field, and is committed to a process of continuous review. AICR also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. Its award-winning New American Plate program is presented in brochures, seminars and on its website, www.aicr.org. AICR is part of the global network of charities that are dedicated to the prevention of cancer. The WCRF global network is led and unified by WCRF International, a membership association which operates as the umbrella organization for the network .The other charities in the WCRF network are World Cancer Research Fund in the UK (www.wcrf-uk.org); Wereld Kanker Onderzoek Fonds in the Netherlands (www.wcrf-nl.org); World Cancer Research Fund Hong Kong (www.wcrf-hk.org); and Fonds Mondial de Recherche contre le Cancer in France (www.fmrc.fr).

Article Source: Aicr.org

Article Posted: June 14, 2006

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