Monday, August 15, 2016

Foraged Grape Leaf Chimichurri Recipe- Paleo, Vegan, With Alternative Options

As a forager in my area, what you typically have to work with is lots and lots and lots of greens. Sure, there are some fruit and nuts and mushrooms you can forage, but the vast majority of forageables in my area are greens. To be honest, as someone who likes variety in my diet, sometimes I get bored of those greens and wonder if, perhaps, there are other things I can do with those greens other than just eating them in a salad or sauteing them.
For inspiration when it comes to greens, I find it best to look abroad, as every country in the world, I assume, has traditional recipes made with greens that are local to them, each with their own methods of making them, with different flavors and styles of preparing them. Take these traditional recipes and replace the greens with what you forage locally and voila- you're left with a new and creative and different way to eat those "boring greens". Of course, food purists would be all over me and say "That's not [whatever name you gave your dish]! Real [whatever name you gave your dish] has [standard ingredient] in it and yours does not!" But I don't really care. If it has a similar flavor profile to the original, and most of the ingredients are the same, I am happy to call it that, even if the purists give me grief.

Take this chimichurri recipe. If you've never heard of chimichurri before, and you just read the ingredient list, you might think that it sounds like pesto, and I'd say you're correct. Chimichurri is similar to pesto in that it is a condiment made from pureed/blended greens, garlic, and oil, but while pesto is Italian in origin, chimichurri is Argentinian. A big difference between pesto and chimichurri is that pesto typically is made with pine nuts (or another nut replacement), and cheese (or a cheese substitute), while chimichurri is made with  decent amount of vinegar or lemon juice. The predominant taste, other than the greens, in chimichurri, is sour, while pesto is more garlicky than sour. Another thing that chimichurri always has is oregano. The base of it is oil, vinegar, and parsley, but the additional flavorings are oregano, pepper, garlic, and salt. Replace the parsley with whatever local green you want to use and you won't get exactly the same flavor, but similar enough that I feel it can certainly be called chimichurri.

Chimichurri is traditionally used as a sauce for grilled meat or chicken, but I find it works well on fish and vegetables and as a replacement for other sauces on sandwiches, grains, etc. When I make a batch of chimichurri, I pretty much put it on everything I make, until it gets used up. It's that tasty.

While I make my chimichurri with grape leaves that I forage, feel free to replace the grape leaves with any not too bitter green you have locally. However, bear in mind that grape leaves have an acidity of their own, so if you use a non sour leaf (lets say mallow, for example), add some lemon juice to your chimichurri, in addition to the vinegar, until the flavor is just right. I've seen chimichurri recipes using chickweed, mustard greens, wood sorrel, nettles, kale, swiss chard, arugula, mint, basil, carrot greens, etc. while I haven't seen any recipes specifically with it, I can't see why this can't also be made with mallow, lambsquarters, milk thistle, amaranth, romaine lettuce, sow thistle, or celery greens. It is so versatile. Start off with this recipe, but use a little less of the salt and vinegar than it calls for, and replace the grape leaves with your other greens. Then add more vinegar and lemon juice and salt to taste as needed, and you're good.

Really, you can't go wrong with this one.

Foraged Grape Leaf Chimichurri Recipe- Paleo, Vegan

2/3 cup packed leaves- grape
1 tablespoon allium flowers or 1-2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup wine vinegar or other vinegar of choice
1 tablespoon dried oregano or two tablespoons fresh
2/3 cup olive oil (you can use other oil to make it cheaper, it just won't taste exactly the same)
1 1/2 teaspoon salt (more or less to taste)
1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes (more or less to taste)

1. Chop up your greens somewhat small, and put them in a food processor or blender with your allium flowers or garlic cloves.

2. Blend up, scraping down the sides of the food processor or blender as needed, until the greens are as fine as you can get them to be.

3. Add a little of the vinegar, then blend up some more. A little bit of liquid will help the greens blend more smoothly, but be careful- too much liquid and the greens will just slosh around in the liquid, not blending.

4. Once the greens are as small as you can get them, add the rest of the ingredients to taste.

5. Store in the fridge. Because of the salt and vinegar, this will last a decently long time in the fridge. Mix before using,

6. Enjoy!

Have you ever made or had chimichurri before? What was in it? What is your favorite way to use this condiment?
Does this look like a recipe you'd use? If so, which greens would you use? Grape leaves or a different type of leaf?


  1. Found this recipe by way of Edible Wild Plants, and so glad I did! My supply of greens as I prepare for winter is taking the form of pesto (frozen in little metal cups and transferred to gallon freezer bags), but I was beginning to think I needed another flavor interspersed. This, I think, will do the trick! Thank you!

  2. Fantastic. Precisely fits my needs. Thank you.

  3. I always welcome a new grape leaf recipe. Last year I made chimichurri with gout weed, but it's time I give this one a try. The flavour of grape leaves should be excellent for it.


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