Pesto, Gremolata and Chimichurri: How to master a delicious green sauce

Mastering a green sauce can help you take your vegan cooking game to the next level. Let’s be honest, any plate looks better with a rich emerald drizzle and it makes the food taste even better.

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There are many, a lot different types of green sauce. The clue is in the name, but to qualify in this category, the sauce simply has to be green and usually not cooked, but it is. There are several green sauces from world cuisine that are considered the best, most versatile and the tastiest of green sauces. There is, for example, green lutenica from India, as well as salsa verde from Italy and chermoula from Morocco. California Green Goddess Salad Dressing is also considered a green dressing. But here we focus on three of the most popular green sauces: pesto, chimichurri and gremolata.

Learn more about what they are below, as well as how to cook with them and how to use them in recipes.

The benefits of learning to cook with green sauce

Cooking with green sauce can give you more than an aesthetically pleasing dish. These sauces, which are usually made with green vegetables and herbs such as parsley and basil, are rich in nutrients. Plus, they’re full of fresh, herbal flavor and can help enhance the overall flavor of a dish.

Learning to master a green sauce or two can also help improve your culinary skills. And that’s because they’re incredibly flexible and adaptable; they can be used in dressings, marinades and dips, and once you learn the basic recipe, you can adjust the ingredients and proportions to complement your favorite dishes.

Keep reading to learn more about gremolata, chimichurri, and pesto—the holy trinity of the green sauce world.

The Differences Between Gremolata, Chimichurri, and Pesto (Plus Recipes!)

1 The gremolata

A classic Italian condiment, gremolata is fresh, spicy and versatile. It is usually made with three main ingredients: finely chopped fresh parsley, minced or grated garlic, and lemon zest. And for that reason, it’s incredibly easy to make – all you have to do is combine them in a bowl and you’re good to go.

Gremola is often served with meat or seafood (find some of our favorite plant-based seafood recipes here), but it’s also often added to soups and stews just before serving. It also works well as a side dish for light pasta dishes and roasted vegetables.

Try it in a recipe: Vegan Leek Potato Soup with Broccoli Gremolata

VegNews Kale PestoDaniel Keith

2 Pesto

Another Italian favorite, pesto is one of the most famous green sauces, and for good reason. It’s thick and flavorful and goes with everything from pasta to pizza to salad. It even works well on its own as a simple dip.

Unlike gremolata, there’s little more to pesto than mixing three ingredients together. Its main components are fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil and Parmesan cheese and are usually pounded together using a mortar and pestle.

Because Parmesan is made with rennet, pesto isn’t vegan (or vegetarian for that matter) in its traditional format, but it’s easy to find plant-based versions made without cheese on the shelves. Or, alternatively, you can make your own!

Try it in recipes: Two-step oil-free vegan pasta with cabbage pesto; Vegan Spicy Cauliflower Wings with Pesto Dipping Sauce; and pumpkin seed pesto pasta with lemon

VegNews.ChimichurriSweetPotatoBowls.FeatureAshley McLaughlin

3 Chimichurri

Chimichurri is different from pesto and gremolata in many ways. First, it’s not from Italy, it’s from Argentina. It’s also made with red pepper flakes, which add heat, as well as vinegar, which adds a bit of acidity to the sauce.

However, like its green sauce cousins, chimichurri also contains a mix of fresh herbs (usually parsley) as well as garlic and olive oil. To make chimichurri, the ingredients are finely chopped and then mixed together. Some versions use a food processor for convenience, while others prefer a more rustic, hand-chopped texture.

Chimichurri is often served with grilled meat (vegan meat works just as well!), but it’s also delicious with roasted vegetables and as a dipping sauce.

Try it in recipes: Sizzling Zucchini with Tzatziki and Vinegar Chimichurri; Vegan Chimichurri Roasted Sweet Potato Bowl; and vegan cauliflower steaks with chimichurri sauce

For more information on vegan cooking read:

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