penne con salsa verde e rucola (pasta with green sauce and rocket)

I’ve been on a green vegetable hit in the last week. It started when I came back from the shop, unpacked the broccoli, leeks, parsley and rocket (rucola, arugula) that I’d bought and decided my body was trying to tell me something – go green!

We’ve also had a lot of lovely sunshine over the last few days. Lunchtime Saturday was gloriously sunny and for the first time I got to take some photographs for this blog in natural light! The combination of gorgeously green rocket and parsley and the sun streaming in the window was blissful: Spring is here!

Salsa verde (the Italian version rather than the South American) is a relative of the classic basil pesto, but with parsley as the star herb. Recipes often call for capers or various pickles along with the anchovies, but I just used what I had on hand.

With a food processor or a sharp knife salsa verde is the work of moments to prepare. With my blunt knife and unstable chopping board the process was slightly more arduous, but I just settled for a rougher dice than you would usually aim for.

This sauce is incredibly versatile. Drizzled over grilled meat or vegetables, stirred through sautéed mushrooms, on bruschetta with cheese or as a sauce for anchovies – a few places to start, but the possible uses are almost endless. For Saturday lunch I used it as a pasta sauce and served the penne with a handful of fresh rocket on top. The result was vibrant, delicious and very green.

I used curly parsley because that’s what I could buy here, but flat-leaf parsley would be better. I also don’t add salt or pepper to this directly – I prefer to season the dish overall. Keeping the salsa verde salt-free makes it a bit more flexible, so leftovers can go on salty cheese or anchovies without risking massive dehydration!

to make

1 bunch parsley
2–3 cloves garlic
3ish anchovy fillets
olive oil
penne or other short pasta
parmesan cheese, freshly grated
fresh rocket to serve

Roughly chop the parsley and the garlic then add the anchovies and chop for your life (or throw in a food processor). Once the mix is subdued, transfer it to a bowl and stir in enough olive oil to get a thin pesto-type consistency.


I mix this up in a sealable plastic container so any extra can go in the fridge to jazz up other dishes. Sealed, and with enough oil, it should last up to a week in the fridge.

For this dish you want around 1 tablespoon of salsa verde per portion of pasta. Stir the salsa verde and parmesan through the cooked pasta. Serve with a handful of fresh rocket and an extra drizzle of the salsa.

J

PS Sorry about the silly number of photographs – I just love green!

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7 responses to “penne con salsa verde e rucola (pasta with green sauce and rocket)

  1. Just thought I’d let you know you just made me mega hungry!!. Youre amazing! Love the recipe, love the pictures (Much better in the light!).
    Keep it up, loving the reading!
    BB x

  2. i laughed at your comment at the end, apologizing for the number of silly green photos….i know exactly what you meant-about green and sunshine and the effect that those first days of spring have on you when you are emerging from a cold grey norhtern winter…( and also about getting carried away by endlessly photographing friggin’ rucola leaves!)
    xx Liz

  3. Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all. ~Harriet van Horne

  4. The left-overs seriously rocked as well.

  5. This blog is fantastic, Jean! If you will see a lot of visits from Belgium… well, it’s me.
    I love rucola, and the salsa verde is really something unique to me: it tastes of summer in a very peculiar way (but maybe that’s just my feeling… memories mixing with tastes).
    Now I wait for recipes from your italian holiday, eheh!

    • Hi! Great to see you here 🙂 I think this is definitely a summer recipe – I was trying to get a little bit of that summer feeling on a spring morning! We’ve been having some delicious Italian food already, the vegetables are so good here. J

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