Grilled steak with cilantro chimichurri

Cilantro chimichurri

I recently realized that I’m a bit condiment-obsessed.  No matter what the dish happens to be or what meal of the day it is, I have this compulsion to add a little something extra – a drizzle of this, a dollop of that, a spoonful of this or a squeeze of that.  In trying to be more mindful about what I eat (taking part in What I Ate Wednesdays certainly helps!) I’ve started to pay more attention to the extra things I’m adding to my food.

Some of my faves include hot sauce (Frank’s, sriracha, cholula, Tabasco, hot Buffalo wing sauce), Greek yogurt, sour cream (if there’s no Greek yogurt), pesto, mustard, Miracle Whip, soy sauce, homemade salsa and, when fries are in the picture, ketchup. I must be forgetting a few because this list seems a little short!

Unlike my husband, who will happily dunk pretty much any food in liberal amounts of ketchup (even tomatoes…yeah, I know!), I don’t drown my food in condiments. Still, these extras ultimately add up – especially when used at pretty much every meal. Most processed dips, sauces and spreads are high in sugar and/or sodium and/or saturated fat (depending on the kind) and don’t offer much nutritional value.

Grilled steak with cilantro chimichurri

So this summer I’m trying a mini experiment. I’m going to make an effort to replace some of my favourite condiments with homemade versions when possible, or swap in an equivalent but healthier alternative, like mashed avocado instead of mayo. Just typing that out sounds a bit daunting, especially now that grilling season is officially upon us!  But I’m committed to at least trying.

This cilantro chimichurri recipe was a great way to ease into my little experiment. It’s super easy to make and requires nothing more than fresh ingredients and a quick whiz in the food processor. Even a blender will work, though you’ll have to pay more attention to make sure it mixes properly (the batch of chimichurri I made for these photos was in fact done in a blender as my food processor is out of commission at the moment!).

Grilled steak with cilantro chimichurri

The acidic and garlicky notes mesh so nicely with the bright, herbal cilantro and spicy chili flakes. The olive oil ties it all together for a flavourful condiment that goes well with not only grilled steak but so many other foods.

Since making this batch, I’ve added a spoonful of cilantro chimichurri to scrambled eggs, stuffed baked potatoes and chicken. See? Already rocking the fewer processed condiments thing!

Here’s a quick rundown of what makes this tasty condiment a better-for-you choice than anything store-bought:

  • Fresh herbs contain active plant compounds that help boost overall health and ward off disease
  • Extra-virgin olive oil is rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids
  • Chili flakes get their heat from capsaicin, a compound that may ever-so-slightly suppress appetite
  • Garlic has wide ranging medicinal benefits including antimicrobial, anti-cancer and cardioprotective properties, to name just a few
  • Because this chimichurri is made from scratch with nothing but whole ingredients, it does not contain any fillers, preservatives, sugar or any other ingredients.

To keep things balanced, remember that olive oil, while nutritious, contains approximately 120 calories per tablespoon–the same amount as other pure fats–and a considerable amount is used in this recipe. Fortunately, a tablespoon or two of this chimichurri goes a long way thanks to its pungent flavour.

If you don’t like cilantro, use parsley as per the traditional Argentinian recipe.

Get the full recipe on my blog here >>

Jennifer Andrews, B.Sc., M.Sc.

Nutritional scientist // Marketing professional // Food blogger

www.ricottaandradishes.com

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