Kitchen Witch - Screw the pesto: Two green sauce alternatives

Good pesto is never boring, but let's be honest — it's overused to a cliched extreme. Let's break out of the pesto box and consider a variation on the pesto theme — venturing instead in the culinary direction of India or South America. Below are two simple green sauces that promise to wake up the senses and the spirit.

First contestant: Green chutney

This is a typical chutney made in Indian households daily. Amounts are approximate, ingredients are flexible and emphasis is up to the cook. No matter the variation, the goal is to make it invigorating on the tongue. Serve with fish or meat as a dipping sauce, or with roasted veggies. Traditionally, this is meant to go with pakoras, fried vegetable fritters.

1 large handful fresh cilantro leaves?
?1 small handful fresh mint leaves, stemmed?
?1/2 inch fresh ginger root?
?1 or 2 cloves garlic?
?1 small or medium tomato?
?1 small green chile, such as Thai bird?
?Salt to taste

?Roughly chop the cilantro, mint, garlic and tomato. Slice ginger and roughly chop. Dice the chile and remove the seeds if you want less heat; if you want more heat, use seeds. Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor or a blender; blend until smooth and well combined. Add salt. Serve at room temperature. Chutney may be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to two days.

Behind door No. 2: Chimichurri

This green sauce is a common staple in Argentina. It's often used as a condiment for grilled meats, but it's also zesty with grilled fish, shrimp and just great on the plate for an extra kick. The amounts below are approximate, and improv is encouraged. If you hate cilantro, don't use it and don't worry about it. Use basil instead. Use as much garlic as you wish, and a chile if you want. You get the idea.

4 cloves garlic?
?Fresh parsley leaves?
?Fresh cilantro leaves?
?2 T chopped fresh oregano leaves (approximate)?
?1/4-3/4 cup olive oil?
?1/4 cup white wine or red wine vinegar?
?Juice of 1 lemon?
?Coarse salt

In a food processor, puree the garlic. Add your herbs. Then add oil, vinegar and all the rest. Taste for salt and adjust for seasonings.

Yields about 1 1/2 cups. Will keep in refrigerator for a few days, in a covered container.Kim O'Donnel, the host of What's Cooking on washingtonpost.com, tests all the recipes so you don't have to. Send questions and comments to kim.odonnel@creativeloafing.com.

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