How to turn excess soft herbs into a lip-smacking, spicy sauce – recipe

Green sauce is my go-to recipe for using up soft herbs. Traditional Italian salsa verde is made with parsley, capers, anchovy, garlic, vinegar and olive oil, but there are many variations on the theme, including Argentinian chimichurri, British-style mint sauce and salmoriglio, a southern Italian version made with oregano that is especially good with lamb.

Coriander, too, makes all sorts of incredible sauces, among them spicy Arabian zhoug and the insanely tasty Canarian mojo verde, which I learned from Sam and Sam Clark and Marianna Leivaditaki of Moro and Morito in London when I helped set up the inaugural banquets at Wilderness Festival. It also features in their book Moro East, where it’s served with papas arrugadas (or “wrinkly” potatoes), a dish of potatoes cooked in water so salty that, when it evaporates, they end up encrusted in salt. The sweetness of the bell peppers and the acidity of the vinegar in the lip-smacking sauce combine with the salty spuds to create an addictive flavour bomb.

Coriander stalks are edible, but often get wasted, especially when a recipe calls only for the leaves or a small sprig to finish a dish. To use them as well as the leaves, just finely chop them, too.

Mojo verde
This piquant salsa transforms an abundance of stalky coriander into a sauce of dreams. Once made, the sauce will keep in the fridge for up to a week and can be used on just about anything, though it works especially well with grilled food and on Canarian papas arrugadas. To make the latter, put a layer of new potatoes in the base of a wide saucepan. Cover with water, add enough sea salt to make it taste as salty as the sea, then bring up to a boil, uncoveredand leave to cook on a medium-high heat until all the water has evaporated. Turn down the heat to medium and continue cooking until the potatoes take on a white crust – be careful, though, because the pan will get very hot – and serve with mojo verde for dipping.

1 small bunch fresh coriander (100g)
1 small green pepper
2 green chillies
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp dried oregano
5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp sherry or red-wine vinegar
Sea salt, to taste

Roughly chop the coriander, stalks and all. Deseed and roughly chop the pepper, and roughly chop the chillies, including their seeds (save the tops to make yoghurt, if you wish). Put the pepper and chillies in a blender, add all the other ingredients and pulse to a thick, rough-textured puree; you may need to add a dash of water and/or a little more oil to help it along. Season to taste and serve with papas arrugadas, boiled new potatoes, grilled vegetables and/or good, crusty bread.