Spring is finally here and with the days getting longer and warmer, farm stalls and grocery stores seem to burst with new seasonal produce. Sorrel, wild garlic, watercress, spinach and the first asparagus and rhubarb along with locally grown fresh herbs are back and plenty.
In the kitchen, I am turning to those lighter dishes including lots of fresh seasonal produce. Which means many of the things coming onto the table currently are decidedly ‘green’, including some of the classics from the German cuisine.
The famous Frankfurter Green Sauce is part of a fairly wide-ranging family of dishes based on mixed chopped fresh herbs which are served cold. Around the world, those include the perhaps better-known salsa verde from Italy, the French sauce verte, British mint sauce, and finally chimichurri from Argentina.
The origins of the recipe can actually be traced back to the Middle East and it was brought to Europe by the Romans some 2000 years ago.
In Germany, green sauce is particularly cherished in the Frankfurt region, although it is not uncommon in other parts of the country. That said, the people from Frankfurt are quite protective about the ‘right’ recipe when it comes to the only true Frankfurter Grüne Sauce. It must include seven herbs: borage, chervil, cress, parsley, pimpernel, sorrel and chieves.
In fact, Frankfurter Grüne Sauce is one of the protected foods by the European Union. It falls under the ‘geographically protected indication’ system that protects the names of products that originate from specific regions and have specific qualities or enjoy a reputation linked to the territory where it is produced. In the case of the Frankfurter Grüne Sauce, at least 70% of the herbs must be harvested within the Frankfurt area and no single herb variety is allowed to exceed 30% of all herbs used.
Don’t get too worried about all this, however. There are plenty of recipes for Green Sauce that substitute the original seven herbs with others. In that case, you only need to ditch the ‘Frankfurter’ but will still end up with a delicious Green Sauce.
In Germany, Green Sauce is a dish traditionally served on Maundy Thursday, or Green Thursday as it is called locally. This is when the season for Green Sauce starts, which than runs until the first frosty days in late autumn.
Traditionally served with jacket potatoes and hard-boiled eggs, it is not uncommon Green Sauce is served with asparagus, lamb or fish.
Frankfurter Green Sauce is an absolute staple of the German cuisine during the warmer time of the year, even though it is a dish that often divides people into two groups. One that cannot live without it come Spring, and the other declaring it overrated.
I am definitely team ‘pro green sauce’ and will have it on repeat over the next few weeks.
Wine pairing: Rapaura Springs Sauvignon Blanc
As a rule of thumb, green sauce works well with a wine that displays a green flavour profile.
For the Green Sauce served with asparagus and boiled potatoes, I have chosen a Rapaura Springs Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand’s Marlborough region. It is a crisp and powerful wine with notes of ripe tropical fruits and gooseberries followed by grassy aromatic notes and aromas of ripe mango – perfectly matching the fresh green herbs in the sauce.
Rapaura Springs was elected ‘Winery of the Year 2015’ as well as awarded a trophy for the world’s best Sauvignon.
Other white wines that typically pair well with green sauce are off-dry Rieslings, Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer.
Frankfurter Green Sauce Recipe
1 bunch each of parsley, chive, chervil, dill, basil, sorrel and cress
200 g sour cream
200 g crème fraiche
200 g yoghurt (3.5%)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
salt, pepper and sugar for seasoning
Wash and dry the herbs, then finely chop.
In a bowl, add the herbs and some of the sour cream. With a hand blender, blend the herbs until obtaining a very smooth cream which is brightly green.
Mix the remaining sour cream, crème fraiche and yoghurt together, then add the herb mixture. Add lemon juice and season with salt, pepper and sugar.
Keep in a cool spot until serving.
You can keep the sauce in the fridge for 2 to 3 days.