Mougue: Italian Salsa
This recipe is one that is near and dear to my heart! I can't take credit for this recipe, I can only share it! This is called Mougue, also known as Italian salsa. I grew up having this "salsa" at my Grandpa Provenzano's house. We would put this on everything!!! Steak, chicken, fish, eggs, you name it! The taste and smell is so nostalgic to me. It brings me back to how it felt as a little kid sitting at a giant table full of Italian food at my Grandpa's house. This recipe also reminds me of my aunt, who is not Italian, because when we introduced it to her it became her favorite thing to make, and she is the one who named it "Italian Salsa." I laugh to myself every time I try to explain the flavor because that really is the best way to describe it. Now she makes it more than us!
This salsa is packed full of Italian flavor. Tomatoes, herbs, and lots of garlic (of course). You can make this any time of year, but it is extra special when tomatoes are in season. The secret is to make a paste out of the garlic, olive oil, and salt, because this will infuse the garlic flavor throughout the mougue without having large pieces of garlic to bite down on. It is great when it is freshly made, but it is even better when it sits in the fridge for a day. The flavors of the tomatoes, herbs, lemon, and garlic all marry together to taste acidic and bright. The mougue is flavorful and fresh because it can only be made with the freshest ingredients, nothing canned here. As you know from reading this blog, I LOVE using lemon in anything I can, and I like to add in lemon zest, and extra lemon juice. This is completely optional! You can really make this your own and add more or less of anything you like. My mom hates tomatoes seeds, so she takes all of the seeds out of the tomatoes when she chops them. It is best to keep the mougue a little on the chunky side instead of blended until really smooth, because it's nice to have some texture to it!
Most of my best memories involve food, as most Italians. When I make this one I feel as though I am channeling my Grandpa Provenzano, and all of his talents! He was a wonderful cook, a brilliant craftsmen, and an altogether incredible human.
3 garlic cloves; minced
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
5-6 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
1-4 tablespoon fresh lemon juice; start with 1 and add more to taste
1-2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh oregano
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
*sometimes I like to add in chopped fresh parsley as well!
*Make a paste out of the garlic, salt, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil by smashing them together on a cutting board with the side of a knife until a paste is made
*Combine the remaining ingredients in a food processor, add in the garlic paste, and blend together until combined but STILL chunky; not too smooth, it's better if it still has some texture
*Salt and pepper to taste
*Pour in a separate bowl
*Let stand at room temperature for a couple hours to let the ingredients marry
*This can also be made a day or two ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator