Traditional marble mortar and pestle: Marble remains a versatile mortar and pestle material that does not absorb odors from foods (such as garlic). It is very hard and provides an excellent grinding surface that is easy to clean and maintain.
Suribachi mortar: The suribachi is the Japanese version of the mortar, which, when translated, means, "grinding bowl." It has an earthenware glaze on the outside of the bowl, while the inside has a ridged pattern to facilitate grinding. It is used with a wooden pestle called "surikogi."
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Sources: gourmetsleuth.com, The Oxford Companion to Food; "The All New All Purpose Joy of Cooking."
Soak: 10 minutes
Prep: 35 minutes
Rest: 30 minutes
Makes: 2 1/2 cups
This sauce from cooking teacher Susan Belsinger complements any type of vegetable, whether it is grilled, steamed, oven-roasted or served raw. Salsa verde also is wonderful to serve over chicken, fish or pasta. The sauce also can be made from basil leaves, watercress or dandelion leaves in any combination.
1 cup water
2 slices (1-inch thick) stale country bread, crusts removed
3 large cloves garlic, slivered
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup packed, roughly chopped: Italian parsley leaves, arugula, spinach
1/4 cup marjoram or oregano leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup minced sweet onion
2 tablespoons white wine or herb vinegar
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed, drained
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup finely diced red bell pepper, optional
1 hard-cooked egg, peeled, finely chopped, optional
1. Pour water into a 9-inch pie pan. Place bread in pan; allow it to soak for 10 minutes. Squeeze most of the liquid from the bread; set aside.
2. Place garlic in a large (12-inch) mortar; pound with a pestle until mashed. Season with salt. Combine parsley, arugula, spinach and marjoram in a large mixing bowl. Place 1 handful of the leaves into the mortar; pound with the pestle until herbs are mashed. Drizzle a bit of the olive oil into mortar; continue adding fresh herbs, 1 handful at a time, and pounding with pestle. Continue alternating the olive oil and fresh herbs until all have been incorporated.
3. Add onion, vinegar, capers and black pepper to taste to the mortar; pound with the pestle to incorporate. Tear soaked bread into bite-size pieces; gently stir into ingredients in mortar. Stir in bell pepper and egg. Let stand at least 30 minutes. Store any leftover sauce in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator for up to one week. Once refrigerated, let the sauce come to room temperature before serving.
Per 1/4 cup serving: 110 calories, 88% of calories from fat, 11 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 3 g carbohydrates, 1 g protein, 281 mg sodium, 0 g fiber