GREEN SAUCES & VARIATIONS

from France, England, Italy, Spain, and Germany
from 3 centuries organized by date written

Green sauce was common in the past. It was a blend of green herbs, usually parsley and sometimes other herbs, with vinegar or verjus, often thickened with bread. It was usually not of a consistency to be poured over the meat, but rather bits of meat are dipped into and swirled in the sauce. I think green sauce is especially delicious with fowl, good with pork, and also good on fish. These sauces are so flavorful, lively and refreshing! I highly recommend Green Sauce.

Nowadays, most of us are familiar with Pesto, a green colored sauce made traditionally of basil, garlic, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, and pine nuts (commercially often replaced by walnuts). But I think that medieval green sauces may be more comparable with the modern Argentine chimichurri sauce of parsley (and sometimes cilantro or oregano or basil), wine vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil... and occasionally smoked paprika or dried chili powder.

I know of only one sauce prior to the 17th century that uses basil. This has surprised some people (including me), because many of us are so fond of pesto. But pesto is rich with nuts, cheese, and oil, and lacking the refreshing vinegar or verjus sharpness of a Green Sauce, so they are quite different.

More! More! More!

This is by no means the ultimate definitive list of Green Sauce recipes -- just the ones i found when someone on an e-list asked about a recipe and i went looking.

I am on the look out for more, so if you know of one i missed, i would love to know about it!

Questions? Comments? Suggestions? ... uh... that is, Urtatim!

INDEX

  1. Tractatus de modo preparandi et condiendi omnia cibaria #394, probably France, probably early 14th century
    Salsa viridis

    Le Viandier de Taillevent, France, circa 1375-1380
  2. Saulce verde
  3. 161. Saulce vert
  4. Saulse verde
  5. good Green Sauce
  6. 215. Green Sauce

  7. Froide sauge : Cold Sage Sauce
  8. Soux de Pourcel : Parsley Sauce
  9. Marjoram Sauce
  10. Vertius vert : Green Verjus

    Forme of Cury, England, 1390 (variations due to differences among manuscripts)
  11. XX.VII. Verde Sawse
  12. 144 Verde Sawse
    Cxxxviij. Verde sauce

    Le Menagier de Paris, France, circa 1393
  13. Green Sauce with Spices
  14. Sorrel Verjuice

    Anonimo Toscano, Libro della Cocina, Italy, late 14th-early 15th century
  15. Savore per l'arrosto (the sauce that uses basil)

  16. Liber cure cocorum, Sloane MS. 1986, England, circa 1420-1440 - Pur verde sawce
  17. Ashmole MS. 1439, England, ca. 1430 - Sauce vert
  18. Harleian MS. 4016, England, ca. 1450 - Sauce Verte
  19. Ashmole MS. 1429, England, 15th century - Sauce for Shulder of Moton
  20. A Noble Boke off Cookry, England, ca. 1467 or 68 - To mak vert sauce

    De Honesta Voluptate et Valetudine, Bartolomeo Sacchi, aka Platina, Italy, 15th century
  21. Moretum Viride (probably copied from Martino)

    Libro de guisados, manjares y potajes intitulado libro de cozina..., Ruperto de Nola, Spain, Libre del Coch published in Catalan in 1520, Libro de Cozina in Spanish in 1525
  22. 156. Perejil : Parsley [Sauce]
  23. 157. Salsa de Rabano Vexisco y de Gallocresta : Clary Sage [Sauce]

    Ein New Kochbuch, Marx Rumpolt, Germany, 1581
  24. 9. Sauce of green parsley
Comments & Glossary

Ingredient Count

Table of Ingredient Use by Recipe

Fourteenth Century

Tractatus de modo preparandi et condiendi omnia cibaria #394,
probably France, probably early 14th century

ORIGINAL
(1) Salsa viridis hoc modo fit: accipe zinziber, cinamomum, piper, nucem muscatam, gariofilos, petrosillum atque salviam. Terantur primo species, post herbe et ponatur tertia pars salvie et petrosilum, et qui voluerit 3 vel 2 spice de aleis. Distemperentur aceto vel agresta. Nota quod in omni salsamento et condimento, sal est apponendum, et mica panis ad inspissandum.

TRANSLATION
Here is how to make green sauce: take ginger, cinnamon, pepper, nutmeg, cloves, parsley, and sage. Grind first the spices, afterwards the herbs, and add a third part of the sage and parsley, and, who wishes, three or two cloves of garlic. Moisten with vinegar or verjuice. Note that in all sauces and condiments, salt is added, and crumb of bread to thicken it.

Le Viandier de Taillevent by Guillaume Tirel, France, active between 1330 and 1395
His original ms. does not survive; four mss. exist with many differences, as well as some versions published between 1490 and 1604, with many errors.


(3) ORIGINAL, from Project Gutenberg site (which ms.?)
Saulce verde. Prenez du pain blanc & le mettes bouillir en vinaigre & puis le mettes refroidir la plus souueraine verdeur est de froment lautre ou deffault de froment doysille ou de ressise & en la saulce de la chair se fait pareillement mais que tant que lon y mect vng petit de saulge & le passes en lestamine & si elle est trop aigre si y mettes du vin blanc tiede mettes gingembre & poiure & non autres espices.

TRANSLATION, by me
Green Sauce. Take white bread and put it to boil in vinegar & then put it to cool The most sovereign green is de (green) wheat l'autre or made of froment of sorrell or of ressise (??) & in the sauce of flesh/meat is made parallelly but such that one puts a little sage in it & passes it through a strainer & if it is too sharp put in tepid white wine put ginger & pepper and no other spices.


161. Saulce vert: Green Sauce. Grind untoasted white bread, a great quantity of parsley leaves with peeled ginger and sage; steep this in a mixture of vinegar and a little verjuice, and strain it. From Scully's translation


ORIGINAL, Paris, Bibliothèque Mazarine, 3636 (olim 1253)
Saulse verde. Broyer parressi pain gigimbre sauge destramper de vin aigre ou de verjus.

TRANSLATION, by me
Green Sauce. Bray parsley, bread, ginger, sage. Moisten iwth vinegar or verjus.


ORIGINAL, Paris, Bibliothèque Mazarine, 3636 (olim 1253)
Bouliture de grosse chair. Bouliture de grosses chairs comme beuf, porc, mouton, Cuysiez en aigue et sel et maingier aux hauls blans [white garlic sauce] ou a verjus reverdi, pierressy, saulge, ysouppe; at la salle maingier a la moustard.

TRANSLATION
As listed with "grosse" meats, such as beef, pork and mutton, boiled, eaten with white garlicsauce or regreened verjus, parlsey, sage, hyssop; and salted meat eaten with mustard (sauce)
pork and mutton also, if fresh, with
"...a good green sauce of parsley, sage and hyssop made without wine..."


ORIGINAL, Bibliotheque Nationale manuscript, on Thomas Gloning's website
Saulce verte. Prennés pain, percil, gingembre, broiés bien, et defaites de verjus et de vin aigre.

TRANSLATION, by me
215. Green Sauce. Take bread, parsley, ginger, bray well, and moisten with verjuice and vinegar.

73. Froide sauge (literally "Cold Sage") sauce excerpted from cooked and cooled chicken recipe, Vatican ms.
ORIGINAL
Une Froide Sauge ...broyez gingenbre, fleur de canelle, grainne et girofle, sans couller, puis broyez pain, persil, et sauge, et ung pou de saffren en la verdeur, qui veult, pour estre vertgay, et le coulez par l'estamine; et aucuns y coullent des moyeulx d'oeufz cuis durs, et deffaictes de vinaigre...

TRANSLATION, by me
A Cold Sage [Sauce] ...grind ginger, cinnamon, grains of paradise, cloves, without straining, then grind bread, parsley, and sage, and a little saffron in the green, who wishes, so that is is vert gay [bright (yellow) green], and pass it through a strainer; and some strain there yolks of hard cooked eggs, and moisten with vinegar...
[another variation says, without boiling] [in a related ms., galingale or galangal is substituted for grains of paradise]


ORIGINAL, Vatican ms. Soux de Pourcel. Faictes ainsi comme une froide sauge sanz mettre saffren ne nulz oeufz; et qu'il y ait moins de sauge que de persil.

TRANSLATION
Parsley Sauce. Make thus like a froide sauge without adding saffron nor eggs; and have less sage than parsley.


Marjoram Sauce
ORIGINAL, Paris, Bibliothèque Mazarine, 3636 (olim 1253)
119. Prener jus de marjoliaine doubce aigue et atant de vin blanc et y mecter du gigimbre et vin ung pol de giroffle de cannelle et de succre.

TRANSLATION, by Terence Scully
119. Take sweet marjoram juice and equal quantities of water and white wine, and add to these ginger and wine, a little cloves, cinnamon and sugar.


Green Verjus
ORIGINAL
216. Vertius vert. Prenes osylle auec tout grain deffaicte dautre vertius passes & mettes vne crouste de pain dedans affin quil ne tourne.

TRANSLATION
216. Green Verjuice [Sauce]. Take sorrel including the stem, steep in some other verjuice, strain [that is, press it through a coarse cloth to puree it] and add a bread crust so that it does not turn.
(from a 1490 printed edition quoted by Pichon et al., p. 194.)

Forme of Cury, England, 1390
(variations due to differences among manuscripts)

ORIGINAL
XX.VII. Verde Sawse. Take persel, mynt, garlek, a litul serpell and sauge; a litul canel, gynger, piper, wyne, brede, vyneger; do thereto powdour of gynger and pepper, & the grece of the maulard. Salt it; boile it wel and serue it forth.

ORIGINAL
144 Verde Sawse. Take persel, mynt, garlek, a litul serpell and sawge; a litul canel, gunger, piper, wyne, brede vyneger & salt; grynde it small with safroun, & messe it forth

ORIGINAL
Cxxxviij. Verde sauce. Take persel. mynte. garlek, a litul serpell & sauge a litul canel. ginger. peper. wyne. brede. vyneger and salt. grynd hit smal with safroun & messe hit forth.

Le Menagier de Paris, France, circa 1393

(10) Green Sauce with Spices. Grind ginger very fine, cloves, grains (of paradise), and take out of the mortar: then grind parsley or allheal, sorrel, marjoram, or one or two of the four, and white breadcrumbs soaked in verjuice, and strain and grind again very fine, then strain again and put it all together and flavour with vinegar. Note that it is good jellied, but leave out the breadcrumbs. Note that for all the spices, some put in only rosemary leaves.

(11) Sorrel Verjuice. Grind the sorrel very fine without the twigs [i.e., stalks], and soak in old, white verjuice, and do not strain the sorrel, but let it be finely ground; or thus: grind parsley and sorrel or wheat-leaves. Item vine buds, that is those that are young and tender, without any sticks.


Late Fourteenth - Early Fifteenth Century

the Anonimo Toscano, Libro della Cocina
http://www.uni-giessen.de/gloning/tx/an-tosc.htm

ORIGINAL
savore per l'arrosto.
Pesta il basilico nel mortaio e ponvi del pepe e distempera con l'agresta. Questo savore è buono con ogni arrosto e ova lesse: e mancando questo, abbi melarance, citrangole o limoni.

TRANSLATION
sauce for roasts.
[153] Pound basil in a mortar and add pepper and temper/moisten with agresta/verjus. This sauce is good with all roasts [i.e., roasted meats] and boiled eggs: and lacking this [the verjus], use orange, citron or lemon [juice].


Fifteenth Century

Liber cure cocorum, Sloane MS. 1986, England, circa 1420-1440, R. Morris (ed.)

ORIGINAL
(13) Pur verde sawce. Take persole, peletre an o(n)yns, and grynde, Take whyte bred myude by kynde, Temper alle up with venegur or wyne, Force hit with powder of peper fyne.

in Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books. Harleian MS. 279 & Harl. MS. 4016, with extracts from Ashmole MS. 1429, Laud MS. 553, & Douce MS 55
Thomas Austin, ed.
London: for The Early English Text Society by N. Trübner & Co., 1888.
The original source can be found at the University of Michigan's "Corpus of Middle English Prose and Verse"
http://quod.lib.umich.edu/c/cme/

(14) Ashmole MS. 1439, ca. 1430
ORIGINAL
Sauce vert. Take percely, myntes, diteyne, peletre, a foil or .ij. of costmarye, a cloue of garleke. And take faire brede, and stepe it with vynegre and piper, and salt; and grynde al this to-gedre, and tempre it vp with wynegre, or with eisel, and serue it forthe.

(15) Harleian MS. 4016, ca. 1450
ORIGINAL
Sauce Verte. Take parcely, Mintes, Betany, Peleter, and grinde hem smale; And take faire brede, and stepe hit in vinegre, and drawe it thorgh a streynour, and cast thereto pouder of peper, salt, and serue it forth.

(16) Ashmole MS. 1429
ORIGINAL
Sauce for Shulder of Moton. Take perceley, and oynons, and mynce them and the rostyde shulder of Moton; and take vinegre, and poudre gingere, salt, and cast upon the mynced shulder, and ete hym so.

A Noble Boke off Cookry, England, ca. 1467 or 68 (R. Napier, ed.)

ORIGINAL
(18) To mak vert sauce tak parslye mynte sorell cyves and sauce alone then tak bred and step it in venygar do ther to peper and salt and grind them and temper them upe and serue it.

De Honesta Voluptate et Valetudine, Bartolomeo Sacchi (aka Platina) (probably copied from Martino), Italy, 15th c

ORIGINAL
(17) Moretum Viride. Petroselini, serpilli, blitae, aliarumve hebarum odoriferarum parum gingiberis, item cinnami, ac salis modicum simul terito. Trita aceto acri dissolvito, ac in catinum per setaceum transagito. Si allium placet plus minusve ex appetentia addito. Alit et hoc parum, stomachum atque hepar calefacit, tarde concoquitur, oppilationes tamen aperit, et desiderium edendi suscitat.

TRANSLATION
Green Relish. Grind together a little parsley, thyme, chard, and other fragrant herbs, a moderate amount of ginger, also of cinnamon, and a bit of salt. When they are ground, soak in sharp vinegar, and pass through a sieve into a bowl. If a little garlic pleases you, add more or less according to taste. This is of little nourishment, heats the stomach and liver, and digests slowly, but opens obstructions and revives desire of eating.


Sixteenth Century

Libro de guisados, manjares y potajes intitulado libro de cozina..., Ruperto de Nola, Spain, Libre del Coch published in Catalan in 1520, Libro de Cozina in Spanish in 1525.

(19) 156. Perejil - Parsley [Sauce]
You must take the parsley and remove the roots, and strip off the leaves very well and clean it; and grind those leaves a great deal in a mortar; and after it is well-ground, toast a crustless piece of bread, and soak it in white vinegar, and grind it with the parsley; and after it is well-ground, cast a little pepper into the mortar, and mix it well with the parsley and the bread. And then cast in honey, which should be melted, in the mortar, stirring constantly in one direction until the honey incorporates itself with the sauce in the mortar; and if the sauce should be very thick, thin it with a little watered vinegar, so that it should not be very sour; and having done that, take two smooth pebbles from the sea or river, and cast them in the fire; and when they shall be quite ruddy and red, cast them with some tongs in the mortar in such a manner that they are quenched there; and when all this is done, taste it for flavor. And make it in such a manner that it tastes a little of pepper, and a little sweet-sour, and of parsley; and if any of these things is lacking, temper [the dish] with it.

(20) 157. Salsa de Rabano Vexisco y de Gallocresta - Sauce of Horseradish and of Clary Sage
In the same manner as the parsley, you can also make sauce from the root of the horseradish. And the same from the leaves of clary sage.

Ein New Kochbuch, Marx Rumpolt, Germany, 1581

(21) 9. Sauce of green parsley made/ with toasted bread and vinegar ground together/pepper and salt it a little/ so it becomes good and well tasting.


Comments

cyves = chives
diteyne = Dittany of Crete
peleter, peletre = Pellitory

serpell = Wild Thyme (Thymus serpyllum), as far as i can determine.

see also Middle English Dictionary, multiple volumes each with various authors, University of Michigan Press on Google Books
http://www.google.com/search?q=middle+english+dictionary&tbm=bks&tbo=1&oq=middle+english


What is less clear is what to use in recipes.
-- Dittany of Crete, according to Cindy Renfrow, is "the herbs Origanum dictamnus, and Cunila origanoides (L.) Britton, Labiatae, also called Stone Mint or Wild Basil. Dittany is related to, and tastes like, oregano, which may be substituted for it. (TTEM)"
-- Pellitory, says Renfrow, is "Chrysanthemum parthenium or Anacyclus pyrethrum, Compositae. Both are bitter plants used as purgatives. (TTEM)" She recommends no substitute, however. And there are other plants known as pellitory, as well, such as pellitory of the wall and spreading pellitory, which may be sold dried by some herbalists. They are all used medicinally, but no longer culinarily

I do not have access to a garden or even an outdoor planter, so i can't grow them, and have only found them dried, and in that form they don't lend themselves to a truly green sauce.

TTEM = Glossary from Take a Thousand Eggs or More, by Cindy Renfrow, copyright 1991, 1998.



Ingredient Count

21 recipes (including 2 sorrel sauces and 1 basil sauce)

Green Herbs
15 parsley
7 sage
5 sorrel (2 use only sorrel)
5 mint
3 pellitory
2 a little serpell (wild thyme)
1 allheal
1 basil
1 betony
1 costmary
1 dittany
1 hyssop
1 marjoram
1 vine buds
Spices
10 pepper
9 ginger
4 cinnamon
3 cloves
3 grains of paradise
2 saffron
1 x galingale, or perhaps galangal
    substituted for grains of paradise
1 nutmeg

Allia
4 garlic
2 onions
1 chives
Liquid
5 vinegar
3 verjuice (1 old, white)
3 vinegar and verjuice
2 vinegar or verjus / eisel = verjus
2 wine and vinegar
1 vinegar or wine
1 vinegar and tepid white wine and the broth of meat
1 x broth only
1 without wine (with vinegar and/or verjus)
1 x substitute orange, citron or lemon juice for verjus

Thickener
13 bread
1 hard cooked egg yolks + hard cooked eggs

More! More! More!

Know of more medieval or Renaissance recipes for sauces based on green herbs that i didn't include here?

Questions? Comments? Suggestions?
... errr... Urtatim!

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Table of Ingredients by Recipe

Recipe name
21 recipes
PARSLEYSAGEMINTOther HerbsGINGERCinnamonClovesOther SpicesGarlic/ Onion/ ChivesSALTPepperBREADVinegarVerjusWINEOTHER
Tractatus de modo preparandi et condiendi omnia cibaria #394, probably France, probably early 14th c.
(1) green sauceXXXXXNutmegGarlicXXcrumbXor verjus
Le Viandier de Taillevent, France, 1375-1380
(3) Sauce verteXGreen Wheat;
Sorrel;
Ressise
XXwhiteXtepid white
(4) Saulce vertXXXuntoasted whiteXX
(5) good Green SauceXXHyssopXwithout
(6) Green Sauce (raw)XXXXX
73. Froide saugeXXXXXGrains of paradise;
Saffron;
sub. galingale /galangal for grains
XXhard cooked egg yolks;
hard cooked eggs
Soux de Pourcel
Parsley Sauce
X - muchX - lessXXXGrains of paradiseXX
Marjoram Saucesweet marjoram juiceXXXwhitewater,
sugar
(7) Green VerjuiceSorrelcrustX
Recipe name
21 recipes
PARSLEYSAGEMINTOther HerbsGINGERCinnamonClovesOther SpicesGarlic/ Onion/ ChivesSALTPepperBREADVinegarVerjusWINEOTHER
Forme of Cury, England, 1390
(8) XX.VII. Verde SawseXXXSerpellXXGarlicXXXXXmallard grease
(9) Cxxxviij & 144 Verde sauceXXXSerpellXXSaffronGarlicXXXXX
Le Menagier de Paris, France, circa 1393
(10) Green Sauce with SpicesXor allheal
& sorrel
& marjoram
or 1 or 2 of the 4
or only rosemary
XXGrains of paradisewhite crumbsXX
(11) Sorrel VerjuiceSorrel or
parsley and sorrel
or wheat-leaves or
vine buds
old, white
Anonimo Toscano, Libro della Cocina
(12) Sauce for roastsBasilXagresta/ verjusor orange, citron or lemon juice
Liber cure cocorum, 1420-40
(13) Pur verde sawceXPellitoryOnionXwhiteXor wine
Recipe name
21 recipes
PARSLEYSAGEMINTOther HerbsGINGERCinnamonClovesOther SpicesGarlic/ Onion/ ChivesSALTPepperBREADVinegarVerjusWINEOTHER
Harleian MS. 4016, ca. 1450
(14) Sauce VerteXXPellitory;
Betony
XXfairX
Ashmole MS. 1439, ca. 1430
(15) Sauce vertXXPellitory;
Dittany;
Costmary
GarlicXXfairXor eisel/ verjus
Ashmole MS. 1429
(16) Sauce for Shulder of MotonXXOnionXX
De Honesta Voluptate et Valetudine, Platina, Italy, 15th c.
(17) Green RelishXThyme;
Chard;
Other fragrant herbs
XXGarlicXsharp
A Noble Boke off Cookry, England, 1467-68
(18) vert sauceXXSorellChivesXXXX
Libro de guisados..., Ruperto de Nola, Spain, 1520, 1525
(19) 156. PerejilXXtoasted crustlessXHoney
(20) 157. Salsa de GallocrestaClary SageXtoastedXHoney
Ein New Kochbuch, Rumpolt, Germany, 1581
(21) 9. Sauce of green parsleyXXXtoastedX
Recipe name
21 recipes
PARSLEY
17
SAGE
9
MINT
5
Other Herbs
Sorrel 5
Pellitory 3
GINGER
12
Cinnamon
7
Cloves
5
Other Spices
Grains 3
Saffron 2
Garlic 5
Onion 2
Chives 1
SALT
9
Pepper
12
BREAD
17
Vinegar
19
Verjus
8
WINE
4 or 5
OTHER