Makes about 2½ cups
This sauce goes well with any type of vegetable whether grilled, steamed, oven-roasted, or crudités; it is also good with simply prepared meat, chicken, and fish. The herbs can be varied; use what you have on hand or what’s in season—for example, tarragon or dill instead of sorrel, or watercress instead of arugula (also known as rocket).
- One 1-inch-thick slice stale country bread, crusts removed
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- Pinch of salt
- 1 cup packed Italian parsley leaves
- 1 cup packed basil leaves
- 1 generous cup loosely packed spinach or arugula leaves, or 1/2 cup sorrel leaves (if desired)
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup minced sweet-tasting onion
- 2 tablespoons herb vinegar
- 1 tablespoon capers
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup fine-diced red bell pepper (if desired)
- 1 hard-cooked egg, chopped fine or sieved (if desired)
- Soak the bread in about 1/2 cup water for 10 minutes, then squeeze most of the liquid from it. Pound the garlic in a large mortar and pestle until mashed. Add a large pinch of salt and a handful of the parsley, basil, and spinach, arugula, or sorrel and pound until the herbs are mashed into a thick paste, adding a handful at a time with a little oil if necessary, until all of the herbs have been added. (If you’re using a food processor, pulse to incorporate the ingredients.) Add the bread to the mortar or food processor. Pound or mix it with the herbs.
- Add the olive oil to the herbs as if making a mayonnaise, a few drops at a time, blending or pulsing to mix.
- When all the olive oil has been added, blend in the onion, vinegar, and capers. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste; add red pepper and egg if desired.
- Let stand at least 30 minutes at room temperature before using (a little olive oil will remain on top). Taste; adjust the seasoning. Serve at room temperature. Store any leftovers in a tightly covered glass container in the refrigerator for up to a week.