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Peruvian Spicy Cilantro Dressing

By Heidi Allison
Image of Spicy Peruvian Cilantro Dressing
This dressing is an homage to that seriously addictive Peruvian spicy cilantro sauce—Aji Verde. While it’s the usual complement served alongside 10-hour marinated, garlicky, spicy and burnished spit-grilled chicken (pollo de la brasa), this rich, creamy, spicy sauce morphs into a multi-tasking culinary workhorse with a few tweaks, and, makes a terrific salad dressing. It works as cutting-edge switch-out for Hollandaise in Eggs Benedict, poured over boiled new potatoes, as a bread smear in turkey burgers, grilled chicken and vegetarian sandwiches, and-served as a complex, herbaceous sauce over grilled fish. This recipe is so delicious, versatile, and easy to make, it will emerge as the new “stand-in condiment” in your fridge.

While there are numerous versions and regional favorites for this iconic green sauce, this rendition uses mayo as a base. For an entirely different flavor profile, you can experiment with. One cup of cubed, crustless white bread is an alternative way Peruvians add thickness to Aji Verde if you wish to leave out the mayo. For a more complex taste, use half the amount of jalapeños, and add two teaspoons of Aji amarillo Peruvian chili paste, which lends a more fruit -forward flavor. To really turn down the heat, remove seeds and veins in the jalapeños before incorporating into the sauce.

Don’t worry if the sauce seems a bit thin after blending, it will thicken up in the fridge, and, the chili “heat” will temper.

Spicy Peruvian Cilantro Dressing
Makes: 1 cup
Image of Ingredients
3 jalapeño chile peppers, roughly chopped, remove the seeds from 1 jalapeño for a medium-hot dressing
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 tsp. chopped fresh oregano
2 cloves garlic, chopped
½ cup good-quality mayo (Best Foods or Hellmann’s)
1½ Tbsp. fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
½ tsp. sea salt
10 grinds of black pepper, about 1/8 tsp.
2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup crumbled cotija cheese

Image of combining ingredients in blender
Combine all the ingredients, except cheese, into blender or Ninja bullet and blend to combine.
Image of cilantro sauce with cotija cheese
Pour into a bowl and fold in cotija cheese, then stir. Cover and place in the fridge for several hours until flavors “marry”.
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