Jim Dixon wrote about food for WW for more than 20 years, but these days most of his time is spent at his olive oil-focused specialty food business Wellspent Market. Jim’s always loved to eat, and he encourages his customers to cook by sending them recipes every week through his newsletter. We’re happy to have him back creating some special dishes just for WW readers.
I used to make a batch of the Yemeni green sauce called zhug every couple of weeks. Tossing a bunch of cilantro in the Cuisinart with a jalapeño, some garlic, a few spices, and olive oil was a quick and easy way to have the flavor-packed condiment always ready. It’s good on almost everything, and it’s the best way to use up that bunch of cilantro in the fridge before it gets black and slimy.
But last year Samin Nosrat, everybody’s favorite cookbook author, wrote about punching up the flavor of Thanksgiving with a few Persian-ish condiments, including an intriguing mix of lime juice, ginger, dates, garlic, jalapeño and cilantro. I followed her recipe and made a very tasty date cilantro chutney. But after the holidays, when it came time for a fresh batch of zhug, I had one of those lightbulb moments.
Call it ginger-date zhug or Yemeni-spiced, olive oil chutney, but the cross-cultural mashup tasted great, and these days there’s always a container of our new house green sauce in the refrigerator. It makes everything from rotisserie chicken to roasted carrots to quesadillas taste great.
Spicy Green Sauce
1 bunch cilantro
3-5 cloves garlic
3/4 inch chunk of fresh ginger
1-2 jalapeños, sliced
5-6 Medjool dates, pitted
2 limes, juiced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Pick through the cilantro and remove any pieces starting to turn black. Cut the bunch—stems included—into thirds so the stems process easier.
Put everything in a food processor and blitz, scraping down the sides a couple of times, until the sauce has a fairly smooth consistency. Transfer to a jar and refrigerate. It should keep for a week.