Today’s Recipe: (Hessian) Green Sauce

Regular readers may know that I am from Germany and to be even more precise, I am from Hessen (best state in Germany, of course – well, at least geographically, since we’re in the middle and can reach all the other parts of Germany relatively easily). We have a few traditional dishes here (and apple wine!). The one dish that my mum always made around Easter is Green Sauce. Of course, growing up with it, I never knew that a) this is actually not that well known outside of Hessen and b) the way my mum makes it is not how other people in Hessen make it.

Scroll down if you’re only here for the recipe as I will first go into the background and details about this dish as well as more information on the personal meaning for me. :p

You can see what it usually looks like on the English wikipedia page: The picture labelled “‘Frankfurter Grüne Soße’ with potatoes” is what you would get in Frankfurt if you ordered Green Sauce. But this is not how I like eating it. My mum being my mum and her cooking being “the norm” when I grew up, her way of making Green Sauce is the way for me: The main difference to how most others make Green Sauce is that we cut the herbs, but we don’t chop them or put them in a blender! So the texture is more like a salad than a sauce and that’s exactly what I love about it so much.

It’s a seasonal dish and mostly available to buy (the herbs, that is) in spring. We always had it right before Easter, on Maundy Thursday. The German name for that day is “Gründonnerstag” which translates to “Green Thursday”. It was tradition for us to eat something green on this day, so this dish always fit perfectly. Also, it has boiled eggs and we always had too many of these around Easter anyway! So for me, this dish also marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring, warm and sunny days etc.

Since it’s an old traditional dish, there is also quite some variance on how exactly this is done and which herbs belong in the dish etc. If you see “Frankfurter” in front of that term (“Grüne Soße” in German, “Grie Soß” in our dialect), then it has a few different herbs in it than the Northern and middle Hessian regions often have. You can buy packages in supermarkets which come with specific combinations of these herbs. I usually buy the Frankfurter kind, but for this dish which we photographed, we had the Northern Hessian kind. I admit, I do not feel strongly for either version. I like both. :p I am going to list the herbs in the recipe, so you can decide which you want to use if you want to make it yourself. Or, depending on where you live, which herbs you can get! I remember making it for my US American host family who lived in Ohio and we had a very hard time finding some of these herbs as they had not even heard about them before. We succeeded with finding half of what we needed, I think.  So, in case you cannot get all the ingredients: Try to get as many as possible, but it even tastes great with only chive and parsley!

In general, up to seven herbs should be in your sauce. Here are two slightly different lists of ingredients for the herbs. The Frankfurt version has: borage, anthriscus/chervil, garden cress, parsley (the curly kind, preferably), salad burnet, garden sorrel and chives. The herbs used further north are borage, parsley (the curly kind, preferably), salad burnet, garden sorrel and chives – no garden cress and chervil here, but dill and lemon balm are added instead. I can’t say anything about how much of these herbs you should use since we always buy them as a whole package together. We usually have around 250 g (about 8.8 ounces) of them in total, though. Parsley is often the dominant herb in the packages.

The other ingredients we need are: 200 g (7 ounces) saure Sahne* (sour cream comes close but has more fat), 500 g (low-fat) yoghurt (17.6 ounces), 4 hard-boiled eggs, potatoes (as many as you like), a bit of mild mustard (not the sweet kind, but not hot mustard either), salt and pepper.

Boil the eggs. They should be hard-boiled, as you cut them in slices and add them to the sauce! Peel and cut the potatoes and boil them as well, or you can use potatoes in their jacket if you prefer these.

Wash the herbs and cut them. Do not chop them too thinly for my version. Put them in a bowl. Then add the sour cream, the yoghurt, cut the boiled eggs in slices and add these. Then add a bit of mustard, but not too much. You shouldn’t taste the mustard in the end. Last but not least, add some salt and pepper. That’s it actually. Your Green Sauce is done! Serve them with the potatoes**.

*The Wikipedia entry says that it’s “defined as cream soured by bacterial cultures”. So I would say the term “sour cream” comes closest and should fit nicely. :)

**Oh, and if you’re like a certain Greek friend of ours who cannot live without fish or meat, salmon would be a nice addition. I have never had it with meat or fish, but especially the Northern Hessian version with dill would be a perfect match for some salmon. :p