I first made chermoula about 6 or 7 months ago after reading about it in Amanda Freitag’s new cookbook. It caught my attention because of the gorgeous photo in the book, and because at a glance it sounded like a lovely twist on pesto. The first time I whipped up a batch, Nick and I tasted it and thought “okay, this is good, nice and interesting but maybe not spectacular.” Let me tell you, though: this sauce grew on us. I don’t even know how or why, but since that first time, I’ve found myself making chermoula often. It’s quickly devoured with hunks of bakery-fresh bread and that’s it. No frills. I promise, once you make this, you’ll find yourself going back for more… and more.
The combination of cumin and paprika creates a richly-colored and earthy flavor. The fresh minced garlic gives it a satisfyingly spicy bite. The lemon zest and juice brighten it up perfectly to keep us coming back for more bites.
The best part about my chermoula? It’s great with any type of green as the base. Freitag’s recipe calls for parsley (4 cups’ worth). I don’t often have a ton of parsley on hand, although that first time I made chermoula I got the parsley specifically for that purpose. However, I do frequently have turnip or beet greens on hand. I’ve even made this sauce with mustard greens.
The texture of chermoula should be thicker or chunkier than pesto, so typically I chop everything up by hand and mix it together in a large bowl. I’ve also made it in a food processor with success and if you’d like to go that route, just pulse it until you’ve got the consistency you’re going for.
I’ve spread chermoula on sandwiches, tossed it with a piping hot bowl of sauteed veggies, and even slathered it over roasted veg and grilled meat. According to Wikipedia, this version of chermoula is Moroccan. And it’s typically used as a marinade for fish or meat. It’s not unlike a Chimichurri sauce. Whatever it is, it’s GOOD. And one day I do plan to try it as a marinade… if we ever tire of eating it straight-up.
The recipe that follows is a minimally adapted version of Freitag’s recipe. I recommend serving it with hunks of fresh bread or pita for dipping. It’s best served at room temp, but it also keeps really well in the fridge. If you’re making it ahead of time, just take it out early so it comes to room temp before serving.
What’s your favorite thing to make with leftover herbs or greens?