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May, 2012

German Spring Potato Salad with Grüne Sosse (Green Herb Sauce)

By Heidi Allison

The Hessen’s so revere their spring sauce that the sale of its requisite seven herbs -- Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley, Watercress, Tarragon, Dill, Chervil, borage, Sorrel -- is strictly regulated by the government.

In Germany, the coming of Spring is celebrated with a wickedly addictive, cold, creamy, fresh herb sauce, Grüne Sosse (Green Sauce), and its slathered on just about anything you can put on a plate—eggs, fried fish, braised beef, charcuterie plates, sandwiches, and, that ubiquitous side that appears with almost any German meal—boiled potatoes. This regional culinary icon’s roots are traced to the city of Frankfurt Am Mein, and it’s rumored to have been created by the Mother of this state’s most famous son, Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe. In fact, Grüne Sosse is touted to have been this writer’s physicist’s and polymath’s favorite dish!

spinach

Grüne Sosse is eaten throughout the state of Hessen, which is located in the middle of Germany. The Hessen’s so revere their spring sauce that the sale of its requisite seven herbs -- Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley, Watercress, Tarragon, Dill, Chervil, borage, Sorrel -- is strictly regulated by the government. The majority of herbs must be grown in Frankfurt (seven large greenhouses, one for each herb, supply the demand), in addition to each pre-packaged herb bundle that is sold in Farmer’s markets must contain just-the-right-ratio of herbs, with no more that 30 percent of each herb in the mix. The most famous version of this sauce uses dairy as its foundation, and calls for sour cream, yogurt and quark (German low-fat yogurt), or a combination of all three, while other regional variations use neutral-flavored walnut oil , a grated, hardboiled egg yolk and distilled white vinegar as the base. Although one of the herbs is difficult to source in the United Sates, fresh borage, you can get still get pretty close to Grüne Sosse authentic flavor profile without it—I compensate by adding more fresh dill.

The secret to this sauce is twofold: using really fresh, organic herbs in just the right ratios, and letting the finished dish rest for 24 hours, which allows the intense herbaceous notes to settle down. When properly prepared, this complex, bright, fresh-tasting sauce showcases a symphony of flavors that includes base, middle and top notes. For instance, the first thing you’ll notice after the requisite “sit time”: the overpowering bitter notes of the flat-leaf parsley recede into the background and almost disappear, the slightly sweet, licorice flavor of the tarragon transforms from an intense, overriding taste to a clever, seductive high note, the delicate, anise-like taste of the chervil imparts a subtle sweetness, the sorrel provides a slightly tangy, vegetal sour note, the cress lends a bit of “bite”, while the dill shoots to the foreground and grabs your attention. Like a Mexican molé or Indian curry, German Grüne Sosse’s flavor becomes greater than the sum of its parts!

But this easy, quick-to-prepare, fresh herb sauce brings more to the table than just great taste: it is a powerhouse of health-promoting nutrients. Dill contains two unique healing compounds: monoterpenes (including carvone, limonene, anethofuran); and the flavonoids kaempferol and vicenin. These compounds have been shown to neutralize carcinogens, and are linked to preventing cancer, especially in smokers. And like garlic, dill’s volatile oil has been shown to prevent bacterial growth. Watercress is also considered a “superfood” by nutritionists, and contains high amounts of vitamin A and C, in addition to a variety of antioxidants, which work in tandem to combat cancer –inducing, free-radical damage in the body. Several studies have linked high watercress intake with reduced rates of caners in smokers and nonsmokers alike.

German Spring Potato Salad with Grüne Sosse (Green Herb Sauce)
Serves: 2 as an entrée; 4 as a side


German Spring Potato Salad with Grüne Sosse (Green Herb Sauce)
Ingredients:
1 pound Melissa’s Baby Dutch Yellow® Potatoes
Green Herb Sauce:
Makes: about 1 cup


1/3 cup Sour Cream
1/3 cup Buttermilk
2 heaping Tablespoons Mayonnaise
3 Tablespoons Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley, rough chop
4 teaspoons Fresh Watercress, rough chop
4 Tablespoons Fresh Dill, remove thick stems; rough chop
3 Tablespoons Fresh Tarragon, chopped
4 Tablespoons Fresh Chives, chopped
3 Tablespoons Fresh Chervil, chopped
3 Tablespoons Fresh Sorrel, chopped
1 teaspoon German Mustard (Can substitute with Tarragon Dijon mustard, or grainy brown mustard; do not use bright yellow mustard)
3 Hardboiled Eggs
1 teaspoon Walnut Oil
1 knife tip of White Sugar (about ¼ teaspoon)

Preparation
Place potatoes in a large pot lined with a steamer basket and cook for approximately 30 minutes, or until a potato feels tender when pierced to the middle with a knife tip. Remove from heat and allow potatoes to cool in the covered pot till room temperature. Place steamed potatoes in a container, cover and place in the refrigerator overnight. Put the buttermilk, sour cream, mayo, herbs, salt, black pepper, mustard and sugar in a food processor and pulse (about 1-second pulse) 7 or 8 times. With a microplane, grate one egg yolk into the herb sauce, and drizzle in the walnut oil; then pulse again 3-4 times again. Pour herb sauce in a container and allow the flavors to “marry” overnight in the refrigerator. 10 minutes before serving, cut the potatoes in half and quarter the remaining two eggs. Arrange cut potatoes on a plate, and place with eggs on the perimeter. Pour the herb sauce over potatoes and serve.

Chef’s Notes:
Don’t stress over the exact proportion of herbs—my Mother never measured; she used a handful of each. Grüne SoBe will keep in the refrigerator for 3 days.