With the world on COVID lockdown this summer, our family has been spending a lot of time in both the kitchen and garden. It’s been a great way to teach our kids about the natural world and to bond through delicious acts of creation.
While working in the kitchen we often have a game buzzing in the background. My wife will tell you that’s my contribution, and the recent restart of world soccer means the background noise has been full of celebrations from many countries and cultures.
Our toddler might not be able to count to 20, but he knows that Pulisic scores goals and that Sebastian Blanco is capable of, “filth of the highest order.”
In our exploration of world flavors, it seemed like a cool connection to match recipes with the players who have inspired us during lockdown. We chose chimichurri for saucey Argentine midfielder, Sebastian Blanco. This one’s for you!
Chimichurri is a marinade and condiment that is a specialty of Argentina and Uruguay. The sauce is usually served at room temperature and functions as an excellent accompaniment to barbecued meat, pasta, fatty fish or eggs.
Chimichurri packs a flavorful punch, which is often compared to the potency of pesto. The flavor profile is unique though. This is a sauce you’ll want to put on everything. It demands to be enjoyed and never lasts long in our kitchen.
From a nutritional standpoint, chimichurri is loaded with all sorts of good stuff. For heart health and cholesterol control, there is monounsaturated fat from the use of extra virgin olive oil.
The parsley is packed with antioxidants, myricetin, Vitamins A, C and K. It is said to protect against diabetes, promote bone health, and may help prevent some cancers.
Oregano has been called “an herb fit for your medicine cabinet.” It is an excellent source of fiber, vitamin K, manganese, iron, vitamin E, tryptophan and calcium. Oregano is also said to work as an antibacterial, helping the body fight against infection.
Who Invented Chimichurri?
There are several competing stories about origins of the word “chimichurri.”
A common, most certainly untrue, story about the beginning of chimichurri credits its invention to an Irish soldier named “Jim McCurry” who helped indigenous troops fight for independence. In that story, the sauce was named in mispronounced credit to the man.
At a glance, this sounds like revisionist history to us.
Many linguists credit the name “chimichurri” to Basque origins, and the word “tximitxurri”. Around 1900, Argentina became a major destination for Basque emigration from Spain and France. Whether or not they invented it, Basque descendants have certainly carried the torch for this delicious sauce.
Chimichurri is commonly prepared with finely-chopped parsley, minced garlic, oregano and white vinegar. There are many localized variations, and often dried red pepper flakes are added for extra zing.
For our preparation, we borrowed a Uruguayan family recipe from Cafe Delites and modified it to match both the ingredients in our garden and the low level of spiciness that our kids can handle.
Exact measurements are difficult when you’re prepping with a 2-year old, and this is definitely a case where “approximate” amounts are good enough.
Some people use a food processor for this recipe, but we hand chop everything. There are a few reasons for this. First, the texture of ingredients in the final product comes out better when hand chopped. I don’t know the science for this, but anecdotally that’s what we like. And secondly, we find great satisfaction in handling the food we prepare. There is a meditative quality to a fine chopping hand preparation.
In our preparation we diced dried chillies or red pepper flakes. If you are looking to spice things up, they are a worthwhile addition.
Choosing the right ingredients.
Fresh parsley is a must. We use Italian parsley because the flat leaves are easier to remove from the stalk, chop and have a more distinctive flavor. We like that, for this recipe, we can pull parsley from our garden and immediately begin preparing it with the dish.
It’s common to use dried oregano for this dish, but we pulled a few fresh sprigs from our garden instead. As always, we suggest using Extra Virgin Olive Oil to maximize flavor and nutritional benefit.
In preparing the sauce, you can take a lot of flexibility to choose the proportion of your ingredients. You might consider amplifying the acidity by adding extra lemon juice, or dialing up the garlic flavor by including additional cloves.
We recommend tinkering with it. Add ingredients in increments until you find the right balance of flavors for your table. This recipe is a good starting point, but do feel free to experiment.