Fanny Singer, Daughter of Alice Waters, Shares Her Famous Salsa Verde Recipe (2024)

By Fanny Singer

April 2, 2020

Salsa Verde, also known among my friends as “manna from the heavens,” is one of the cornerstones of my cooking. I rarely go a week without making it. It’s also the thing that most routinely results in people telling me that I’m “an amazing cook,” even when all they’ve tasted up to that point is a bite of potato slathered in sauce. In fact, I believe this loose, herby concoction to be disproportionately responsible for any pleasure experienced at my table, which is why I almost always serve it at a dinner party, no matter the menu. If, God forbid, I could eat only one sauce for the rest of my days—and I’m shocked I’m even saying this—I’d choose salsa verde over aioli. Therein lies the depth of my passion for this condiment.

As sauces go, it’s very versatile, and iterations of it exist across many cuisines. Some call it chimichurri, others salmoriglio, schug, or chermoula, and yet others sauce verte, but no matter the language or geography, it’s used in similar capacities. This green magic can be ladled over virtually anything: fish, chicken, steak, lamb, potatoes, sliced raw vegetables, beans, or corn, or swirled into soups, drizzled over tagines, and spread onto sandwiches. It’s also a recipe that can be endlessly adapted. Sometimes, for example, I make it very green and spicy; sometimes I add more exotic spices (fresh curry leaves and grated turmeric root, for instance, were brilliant suggestions from my friend Heather Sperling of Botanica restaurant in Los Angeles), or a tiny touch of honey, to round it out. Once you master the basic recipe, you can decide what herbs and flavors you like most, or you can experiment with different ingredients each time you make it.

Fanny Singer, Daughter of Alice Waters, Shares Her Famous Salsa Verde Recipe (2)

Singer and Waters. Photo: Brigitte Lacombe

At its core, though, it’s just herbs, alliums, acid, and oil. It can be made very simply with just chopped Italian parsley, minced garlic, lemon juice (and zest), salt, and very good extra virgin olive oil, or you can diversify your selection of herbs and/or add a macerated shallot or slivered green onion on top of, or in lieu of, the garlic. Sometimes I add chopped anchovies or capers, and I almost always throw in a chili. Even if I’m incorporating other herbs, I use at least some parsley as a base—I find this to be an indispensable flavor anchor. Measurements aren’t terribly important here, and leftovers are a gift, so don’t be afraid of making too much (although a good rule of thumb is that two bunches of herbs and two cloves of garlic will get you six very generous servings).

Recommended: Daughter of Farm-to-Table Pioneer Alice Waters Pens New Culinary Memoir

Fanny Singer, Daughter of Alice Waters, Shares Her Famous Salsa Verde Recipe (3)

Fanny Singer’s Salsa Verde.


Start by washing and drying your herbs. I default to a mix of parsley and cilantro, but I regularly add other fines herbs like mint, basil, marjoram or oregano, tarragon, chives, or fresh curry leaves, depending on what’s freshest and in season. Pluck the leaves from their stems, with the exception of cilantro, which can be chopped stems and all. Finely mince 1 to 2 cloves of garlic. If you’re making extra sauce, scale up the amount of garlic, but, as my mother consistently reminds me, while you can always add more, you can’t take it out. Put the garlic in a medium bowl and add a big pinch of salt. If using, deseed and mince a small jalapeño, Serrano, or Thai chili, and add it to the garlic. Holding a Microplane grater over the bowl, zest a lemon into the garlic, and then squeeze its juice over the top to allow the acid to slightly mellow the bite of garlic and chili. Make a heaping pile of your herbs and use a very sharp knife to chop them—how fine is up to you, but I like mine somewhere in between. I prefer the herbs to be in bigger pieces, if, say, I’m serving a rustic cut of meat, but generally I chop them to medium. If using, chives should be cut separately, since you want them to keep their tubular shape for texture.

Add your herbs to the garlic and pour over a few big glugs of extra virgin olive oil, which is at once the binder and also the preservative: it will prevent the cut herbs from oxidizing and turning brown. Mix everything together thoroughly. It should be loose, so make sure to add enough oil. You might need more lemon juice too. The taste should be more acidic than oleaginous, and on the brighter, more verdant end of the spectrum, especially if you’re serving it with something meaty and fatty like lamb shank or steak. If I’m using slivered scallions or green onion or diced shallot, I add it at the beginning along with the garlic and will supplement the lemon juice maceration liquid with a glug of white wine or champagne vinegar. Once you’ve added the oil, taste and adjust the seasoning, making sure you’ve used enough salt to bring out the flavor of the herbs and acid. The recipe is very forgiving, so fear not if your proportions aren’t quite right at first. If you’re like me, you’ll be making it often enough to dial in a version that’s exactly in tune with your palate.

DesignTV: Chef Fanny Singer Cooks with Galerie’s Editor in Chief Jacqueline Terrebonne from Galerie Magazine on Vimeo.

Excerpted from Always Homeby Fanny Singer. Copyright © 2020 Fanny Singer. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Allrights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Cover: Fanny Singer’s Salsa Verde.

Photo: Courtesy of Fanny Singer

Fanny Singer, Daughter of Alice Waters, Shares Her Famous Salsa Verde Recipe (2024)


Is salsa verde the same as tomatillo salsa? ›

Salsa verde in Mexico is a green salsa, which could be tomatillo or avocado based. However, salsas are typically referred to by ingredient, not color.

What is salsa verde made of? ›

Salsa verde is really easy to make from scratch, all you need are tomatillos, onion, jalapeño, lime, and cilantro. To make the salsa verde, you will need to cook the tomatillos, which you can do by either boiling them, broiling them in the oven, or pan roasting them.

Can you freeze homemade salsa verde? ›

Yes, you can freeze Salsa Verde. In fact, I intentionally prep a large batch so I can freeze in smaller individual portions. My preference is to freeze in half-cup portions. Once the Salsa Verde is frozen, I prefer to pop the frozen cubes out of the Souper Cubes tray and place in a freezer-safe bag.

Should salsa verde be served warm or cold? ›

Salsa verde can be served warm or cold and can range in spiciness from very mild to completely mouth-searing. Salsa roja, or red sauce, is usually used as a condiment and made with tomatoes, chili peppers, onion, garlic, and fresh cilantro.

Which is hotter salsa verde or salsa roja? ›

We are frequently asked how hot they are and many believe that one is spicier than the other. So, which one is hotter anyway? The real answer is; neither! The true difference between the salsa roja and verde is the base.

What is the difference between salsa Mexican and salsa verde? ›

Salsa verde, or green salsa, is growing in popularity as more people are willing to try different salsa beyond the common salsa roja. Instead of red tomatoes, salsa verde uses tomatillos. Tomatillos are closely related to tomatoes, but it is important to know that they are not simply unripe or baby tomatoes.

What is the difference between green salsa and salsa verde? ›

Salsa verde = Green salsa, is just to generic. They are the same thing, but in Mexico there are regional differences about how “tomatillos”, “tomates verdes” or “tomates” are called, and they are one of the main ingredients in salsa verde.

What is a substitute for tomatillos in salsa verde? ›

For a tomatillo substitute, buy underripe tomatoes and add a squeeze of lime juice. You will often see tomatillos in Mexican dishes like salsas, tacos, soups, and enchiladas. This swap might work well in a recipe like Slow Cooker Chicken Verde, Ceviche Verde, White Chili with Avocado Cream or Baja Fish Tacos.

Does homemade salsa verde go bad? ›

Homemade salsa will generally keep for about 5 to 7 days, assuming it has been continuously refrigerated. To further extend the shelf life of salsa, freeze it: Freeze salsa in covered airtight containers or heavy-duty freezer bags.

What can I do with a jar of salsa verde? ›

Put It on Your Tortilla Dish of Choice

If a tortilla is involved, salsa verde can be too. Tacos, burritos, tostadas, quesadillas, any and all tortilla-based meals.

Does salsa verde go bad in the fridge? ›

An open jar of store-bought salsa lasts about 2–4 weeks in the fridge, but you should always check for signs of mold, fuzz, funky smells, and any other signs that something is awry before diving in. If you make your own salsa, it'll stay good for just five to seven days in the fridge.

Can I substitute green tomatoes for tomatillos in salsa verde? ›

Green tomatoes can take the place of tomatillos in guacamole, in a chile verde sauce for enchiladas, raw in salads, as a fresh topping for tacos, simmered in a vegetable soup or turned into a chicken posole stew.

What is a substitute for tomatillo sauce? ›

When it comes to finding alternatives for tomatillos, green bell peppers are a popular choice. These vibrant vegetables are not only visually appealing but also offer a unique taste and texture that can elevate your dishes. Whether you're making salsa, sauce, or soup, green bell peppers can be a fantastic substitute.

What is the closest thing to a tomatillo? ›

A Simple Switch Guide

When faced with the lack of tomatillos for a recipe, unripe green tomatoes emerge as the leading substitute due to their similar texture and tartness. A fundamental ingredient in Mexican cuisine, tomatillos impart a unique flavor to dishes such as salsa verde and soups.

Are tomatillos and green tomatoes the same thing? ›

Contrary to its name, a tomatillo is not a little green tomato. Though the two plants are distantly related, they are not the same thing — substitution is not recommended.

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