I have a wonderful daughter who plies me with the most inspired foodie treats. Last year I was given a day-long course with Diana Henry, run at Mark Diacono’s Otter Farm.
I can’t remember how the subject came up – perhaps it was the session on seeking inspiration – but Diana mentioned a Sicilian sauce she’s discovered called zhoggiu.
I had to investigate, as that sounded to me (literally I mean) very like the green sauce, zhug, which I’d just researched (for a post about that follow this link). It does have some ingredients in common: garlic, parsley, lemon juice and olive oil.
But there are also worlds of difference between these two sauces. Zhug includes generous portions of chilli and coriander. Zhoggiu includes mint, and is nut based….so I suppose you could say, that, not surprisingly considering the geographic position of its island home, poised as it is between the Italian north and the middle east, this Sicilian sauce is a sort of pesto–zhug hybrid.
Not surprisingly considering the geographic position of its island home, poised as it is between the Italian north and the middle east, this Sicilian sauce is a sort of pesto–zhug hybrid.
Uses for zhoggiu
Diana famously pairs zhoggiu sauce with roast lamb (I prefer it to both mint sauce and redcurrant jelly), in particular with lamb fillets with a watercress and caper salad; but it goes just as well with grilled chicken, and also as a dip, or spooned onto generously oiled crostini.
Don’t complete making it until the last minute
It doesn’t take long, but it is best made at the last minute (or half an hour or so before – cover the surface with clingfilm).
Alternatively, if you are one of those super-organised types, you can prepare everything dry ahead of time, put into the mortar, cover with cling film; and then pound and then gradually snip in the herbs, pouring in the oil and vinegar gradually the while, all at the last minute.
Recipe for zhoggiu sauce
- 30g/¼ cup (about four tbsps.) flaked and toasted almonds – or you can use a mix of almonds and pistachios
- 1 fat clove of garlic, peeled and crushed with half a teaspoon of smoked salt (do this in the mortar to save washing up)
- 15g/½ oz – about half a 25g bunch of flat leaf parsley
- 15g/½ oz – about half a 25g bunch mint
- 1½ tbsp white condiment (Belazu) or sherry vinegar
- 3 tbsps olive oil – you may need more.
- A little lemon zest (optional – just if you have the odd lemon in your fridge)
- Pinch of Urfa pepper flakes, or some freshly ground black pepper
- Add the garlic and salt to the mortar, crush. Add the nuts, crush more. Add in a little lemon zest if you have any to hand. Snip in the parsley and mint, slowly adding in the oil and vinegar as you do. Grind over the pepper (or sprinkle over the pepper flakes), stir.
For a post on how to make zhug, follow this link.
Below Romina Arena sings Ricordi