Spicy Joys of Zhoug!

So, what in the world is Zhoug?? Tia Marta here to share a fun new taste experience. An exploratory-cook neighbor introduced us to this wonderfully flavor-filled sauce that hails originally from Yemen, Israel, the Middle East. It’s a bright green, savory thrill that can embolden–and bedeck–many totally different dishes. Zhoug tastes a little like a Chimichuri sauce from Argentina…

With Spring exploding in the desert, NOW is the time to harvest greens from your winter garden–quick–before they bolt–to make into spicy Zhoug sauce!

Most of the Zhoug sauce ingredients can be grown locally in the Sonoran Desert, some in winter, a few in summer. Many are available right now–fresh for the picking. Cilantro is my green of choice, because, “when it rains it pours.” There are lots of other greens options. Some peoples’ palates are not attuned to cilantro, so almost any leafy green fortunately can be used for Zhoug! Try fresh Italian parsley, crinkly parsley, or mint leaves–or try acelgas leaves from the Mission Garden.

Many ingredients for Zhoug saurce can be grown easily in your own backyard garden plot….
Harvest picante chiltepines from your own garden--or find them at NSS or the Mexican food section at the grocery.

Wild chiltepin peppers make the best Zhoug spice of all!

Recipe for Zhoug! sauce:

Ingredients: 2+ packed cups of slightly chopped cilantro or other leafy greens (2 bundles of cilantro) (with chopped stems ok)

4 medium cloves garlic (chopped) (try heirloom garlic from NativeSeedsSEARCH or MissionGarden)

1/2-3/4 tsp chiltepin peppers, ground (e.g.saved from summer-fall garden Tucson)

1 medium jalapeno, seeds removed (summer-fall garden Tucson)

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp cardamom, ground

3/4-1 tsp cumin seed, ground. (winter garden Tucson)

3/4 cup olive oil

2 Tbsp lemon juice (from your own or your neighbor’s tree, or from Iskashitaa Refugee Network)

For processing Zhoug sauce, put all your fresh “dry” ingredients in, then add the final olive oil and lemon juice just before blending (or poured in as you blend).

Directions: In a food processor, starting with your fresh greens, garlic, herbs & spices, then adding your wet ingredients, blend all to your desired consistency. I like to see little flecks of leaves still in the sauce as in the photo.

Glorious green Zhoug sauce can be used as a dip with chips, melba toast, sourdough slices… Invent your own spicy canape!

There is almost no end of ideas for Zhoug sauce! Zhoug will enliven tacos, beans, lentils, pita sandwiches, eggs, roasted veggies, hummus, grilled meats…..Wow. Try adding 1-2 Tbsp of Zhoug to 1 cup plain yogurt….

Our favorite is fish with Zhoug. We swooned over mahi mahi shown here with our Meyer lemon slices and Zhoug!

So get creative with our harvest of winter garden greens, and have fun creating new Zhoug dishes with that perfect chiltepin kick. Salud! from Tia Marta

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