Saturday, November 11, 2017

Cheater’s Chimichurri

After working insane hours for the past several months, my husband and I took a much needed two week vacation at the end of October.  We rented a tiny little cottage in Sanibel, FL that sat just steps from the beach.  We love trying to stay somewhere with a kitchen when we go on vacation; not only do we both enjoy cooking, it’s a great way to keep our budget on track.  When we get to wherever we’re staying, we take stock of what’s in the kitchen and plan a trip to the store.  Here are the essentials we typically stock up on to make vacation kitchens workable:

  • Extra-virgin olive oil: A small bottle on hand can be used for cooking, dressing salads, and making marinades and sauces.
  • Butter: Optional, but it’s nice to have on hand for buttering toast, saucing pasta, and more.
  • Garlic and onion:  Essentials for when you’re cooking with a limited pantry
  • Lemons/Lemon juice: Sometimes we cheap out and just get a bottle of lemon juice, but it’s usually in combination with a couple of fresh lemons too.  We add lemon to our beverages (iced tea, water, seltzer), use it in salad dressings and pasta sauces, and for finishing fish.
  • Pasta: It rounds out a lot of dinners, is affordable and easy to find pretty much anywhere
  • Tuna: We’ll make a simple tuna salad with finely minced onion, lemon, olive oil, and salt and pepper
  • The rest: Snacks like cheese and crackers, peanuts, and chips to handle those times when I get hangry; bread to make sandwiches; a pack or two of deli meat so we’re not sick of tuna salad by the end of our stay; and a small bottle of mustard (I like Dijon) for sandwiches and sauces/dressings/marinades.
In any case, this trip we also made salsa and guacamole to satisfy our snacking cravings.  Having a handful of cilantro and most of a jar of jalapeños leftover, inspiration struck and I whipped up this “cheater’s chimichurri.”  It’s certainly not authentic, but it added a fresh pop to sautéed salmon for a couple of our dinners.  I love this sort of on-the-fly cooking, trying to get creative to use up what we’ve purchased and add new flavors to our little vacation kitchen.  If you have other ingredients on hand, feel free to mix it up - fresh or dried oregano would certainly be traditional, swapping crushed red pepper instead of the jalapeños is good too.  You can use this as a topping for beef, fish, or chicken; it’s really quite versatile!  Note: In my tiny vacation kitchen I didn’t have a food processor, so I chopped everything by hand.  You can use a food processor, though the end result will be a smoother, less rustic sauce.

Cheater’s Chimichurri
Makes about 1 cup
Click here for a printable recipe

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 c. finely minced onion
2 T. finely chopped pickled jalapeños
2/3 c. cilantro, finely chopped
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 T. lemon juice
1 T. jarred jalapeño juice (or to taste)
Salt & Pepper, to taste

Once all ingredients have been chopped, combine them in a jar with a lid.  Screw lid on and shake well to combine.  Keep refrigerated for up to 3 days.

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