Spicy, zesty, fragrant, delicious

A flavorful green sauce made with fresh herbs is common in many cultures and each sauce has many regional variations! Argentina and Uruguay have chimichurri, made with chopped parsley, olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, and red pepper flakes. North Africa has chermoula, which is mostly cilantro, garlic, lemon, and a blend of smoky spices like cumin and paprika. Mexico has sala verde made with tomatillos and fresh green chiles. Italy (of course) has pesto, traditionally made with garlic, pine nuts, basil, a hard cheese like Parmigiano-Reggiano, and olive oil. My favorite lately is the Yeminite green sauce zhoug that is bright and spicy.

We can thank Trader Joe’s for introducing zhoug into our lives. A couple of years ago, we grabbed a container of the green stuff hanging out with the hummus and tzatziki dips. Now a trip to Trader Joe’s isn’t complete unless we get that good good. I set out to replicate the zhoug from Trader Joe’s, but making any type of green sauce at home is easy!

I have two ingedient lists below. The first list is for making zhoug (or a close approximation to zhoug). The second list is for making a “kitchen sink” spicy green sauce with what you have available. Maybe you don’t have red wine vinegar, but you have lemon juice. If you don’t like spicy food, use one pepper instead of three. Use whatever fresh herbs you have available as long as the total volume roughly 4 to 5 cups. You can add more (or less) dried chiles, cardamon, coriander, cumin… it’s hard to go wrong. I do prefer using garlic over onions or shallots because it has more of a kick. 

Wondering what to serve the zhoug with? LITERALLY EVERYTHING. Roast veggies, chicken or fish. On top of a savory oatmeal bowl. As a dip for crudite or a make-shift salad dressing. Sometimes when I am feeling fancy, I serve with a swoosh of yogurt to counterbalance the heat – doesn’t hurt that it looks pretty on the plate either!

pretty, right?

Ingredients (zhoug)

1 bunch of cilantro, roughly chopped

1 bunch of parsley, roughly chopped

2-3 serrano chiles, roughly chopped

4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

½ cup good quality olive oil, plus more if needed

¼ cup red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon of salt 

½ teaspoon coriander

½ teaspoon of cardamom

fresh ground black pepper (to taste)


In a blender or food processor, add all the ingredients and pulse until everything is roughly combined. Sometimes I need to add a little more olive oil to make it come together. Then blend until smooth. 

Ingredients (kitchen sink green sauce) 

4 – 5 cups of herbs, roughly chopped (parsley, cilantro, mint, basil)

4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

½ cup good quality olive oil, plus more if needed

¼ cup red wine vinegar, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar.. any acid really

1 teaspoon of salt 

½ teaspoon coriander or other spice of choice

1 teaspoon of cardamom (or other spice of choice)

Fresh ground black pepper to taste


See above (same instructions as for the zhoug)

Published by thespicylatke

Hi, I am Jessie! I work as an attorney by day, but on evenings and weekends, I’m busy working out or cooking in. I read a lot of cookbooks (maybe too many...) so this blog is a creation from the recipes percolating in my mind. Current favorites are Simple by Ottolenghi, Everyday Kitchen by Smitten Kitchen, and Zuni Cafe Cookbook by Judy Rogers.

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