Sauce Vierge

I’ve mentioned how I plan my personal meals around condiments, and I’m not exaggerating! In fact, a condiment will inspire a whole meal for me. I guess it’s no different than a BBQ lover who sees BBQ sauce and immediately wants brisket, beans, and cole slaw.

Basic condiments like home-made aioli, mustards and ketchups are wonderful, but so are romesco, chimichurri, charmoula, persillade, harissa, chutney, and onion confit and red chimichurri. So many condiments, so little time!

Recently I came across another sauce – Sauce Vierge – that is almost like a marriage of a fresh tomato salsa and persillade, loosely speaking.

I discovered the sauce on Food 52. Sauce Vierge translates to virgin sauce, and was created in 1976 by Michel Guérard, “one of the forces behind the lighter, fresher nouvelle cuisine that sprang up in reaction to cuisine classique, dripping with all its hefty mother sauces.”

I got excited when I read about the sauce, which includes tomato, lemon juice, and fresh herbs, because it’s a perfect sauce to make in the summer. And it’s summer!

Sauce Vierge

4 ripe tomatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds)
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 whole, peeled garlic cloves, lightly smashed
1 freshly squeezed lemon
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Pinch of ground coriander
1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs

Peel and seed the tomatoes, then roughly chop and place in a medium bowl.

Add the oil, garlic, lemon, salt, pepper, and coriander.

Then add the fresh herbs. I used chives, basil, tarragon, thyme, and rosemary.

Cover the bowl, and leave to sit at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours. Taste and adjust the seasoning, remove the cloves of garlic, and serve warm or room temperature.

To use the sauce, I grilled tilapia, and served the sauce at room temperature.

I wanted the sauce ingredients to really stand out.

I served the tilapia with boiled potatoes, on which I drizzled some of the herby oil. You can tell I’m not scared of a plate of olive oil!

In reality, is Sauce Vierge a condiment or a sauce? Where does a condiment start and end, and a sauce or paste begin?

My answer is “who cares?!!”

verdict: I will continue to make this sauce/condiment during summer months when I can get my hands on ripe tomatoes. It is exquisite. Over fish it was a great pairing, but I can see this on scallops, chicken, lamb, bread…

Note: Instead of using the ingredients at room temperature, you can alternatively mix the ingredients in a saucepan, and simmer the sauce slowly over low heat for 30 minutes.

By Published On: August 22nd, 201750 Comments

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!

50 Comments

  1. Lisa @ cheergerm August 22, 2017 at 5:15 AM - Reply

    As that song went, ‘Tomato, tomahto’…..condiment, sauce…as you say, who cares! Looks delicious to me.

  2. Travel Gourmet August 22, 2017 at 5:41 AM - Reply

    Whatever it’s called it looks and sounds delicious, especially with the fish.

  3. Josette@thebrookcook August 22, 2017 at 5:42 AM - Reply

    Looks delicious! A beautiful summer sauce. :)

    • chef mimi August 22, 2017 at 5:43 AM - Reply

      I would have normally added olives and capers, but this is more about the tomatoes and herbs.

  4. apuginthekitchen August 22, 2017 at 6:38 AM - Reply

    It’s fresh and wonderful and would be delicious on just about anything.

  5. cookingwithauntjuju.com August 22, 2017 at 7:32 AM - Reply

    A new sauce for me and I have noted your recipe to try soon. The fun part will be deciding on what herbs to use :)

    • chef mimi August 22, 2017 at 7:38 AM - Reply

      I didn’t include chervil or cilantro – both of which were listed as possible choices. And I’m not even a huge tarragon fan, but it was all really good!

  6. A Cookbook Collection August 22, 2017 at 9:07 AM - Reply

    I love a good Sauce Vierge, the perfect Summer condiment. I only heard of this last year. Yours looks great!

  7. karrie / Tasty Ever After August 22, 2017 at 9:24 AM - Reply

    I don’t care if it’s a sauce or a condiment either…all I know is THAT LOOKS SOOOO GOOD!!!! I need to make that and put it all over everything! I’ll have to try it over fish like you did too. YUM!!!

    • chef mimi August 22, 2017 at 9:31 AM - Reply

      I ended up boiling the rest of my potatoes and drowning them in the sauce – it was wonderful!

  8. M.L. Parma August 22, 2017 at 10:01 AM - Reply

    beautiful Pictures and delicious menu……… >

  9. Gerlinde @ Sunnycovechef August 22, 2017 at 10:14 AM - Reply

    I am always interested in new sauces or condiments, I use them on everything. Your sauce vierge looks great . I had a large Birthday party Sunday and I served oysters with romesco sauce. Everybody seemed to like it.

    • chef mimi August 22, 2017 at 2:09 PM - Reply

      Romesco is so good. You’re lucky to live where you can get oysters. And a lot of good seafood!

  10. Healthy World Cuisine August 22, 2017 at 11:17 AM - Reply

    Sauce, dip, condiment…the naming convention is “simply delicious”. Heirloom tomatoes along with these fresh herbs super delicious on so many dishes, can’t wait to make it.. In Philippine cuisine, there is a very simple fish “dipping sauce” made out of tomatoes, garlic, onions soya sauce and fresh lime juice. Have you ever tried it? So good! Loving the August garden harvest!

    • chef mimi August 22, 2017 at 2:09 PM - Reply

      No, I haven’t! It’s salsa with soy sauce! Amazing!

  11. Jack & Barbra Donachy August 22, 2017 at 1:12 PM - Reply

    This would be really nice on rockfish fillets. Definitely one to add to our summertime fare!

  12. Tasty Eats Ronit Penso August 22, 2017 at 2:52 PM - Reply

    The dish looks delicious. Can’t go wrong with fresh tomatoes, herbs and olive oil! :)

  13. Kim Bultman August 22, 2017 at 2:54 PM - Reply

    Loved that you paired this with tilapia and “repurposed” the oil. I bet fish tacos would be fabulous with Sauce Vierge, too.

    • chef mimi August 22, 2017 at 3:17 PM - Reply

      Maybe…. i guess it’s hard for me to think of fish tacos as anything by Mexican. But the sauce is amazing!

  14. Jeff the Chef August 22, 2017 at 11:32 PM - Reply

    I’d want to call it a condiment. Regardless, I love the technique! I’ve never made anything like it. I’ll bet it was great on the fish!

    • chef mimi August 23, 2017 at 9:05 AM - Reply

      I had some on boiled potatoes, then ate the second fish filet topped with the remainder the next day. I also cooked the sauce/condiment, just to see, and I think I like it with the tomatoes raw, although it was surprisingly similar, probably because it was more of a tomato confit process with the olive oil, and not actual cooking of the raw tomatoes like in a red sauce.

  15. kitchenriffs August 23, 2017 at 10:06 AM - Reply

    I’ve had this in restaurants — it’s good! But never made it myself. I need to, quickly, before the summer tomatoes are gone. Thanks!

  16. Loretta August 23, 2017 at 12:43 PM - Reply

    I have never heard of this sauce…..but just reading through the ingredients, what’s not to love? Wow, and you’ve paired this deliciously with the tilapia and potatoes…definitely my kind of meal as I try to stick with a vegetarian and fish diet. Just beautiful!

  17. sippitysup August 23, 2017 at 5:29 PM - Reply

    I’ve been making a similar sauce I just never knew it’s French name. GREG

  18. Susan (@savoringtime) August 24, 2017 at 3:38 PM - Reply

    The sauce sounds so delicious and love the name! With fresh tomatoes from the garden, it has to be wonderful.

    • chef mimi August 25, 2017 at 6:48 AM - Reply

      Even after I tried the cooked version, the tomatoes stayed fresh. Probably because they cooked in oil, so it was more like a tomato confit!

  19. Culinary Flavors August 25, 2017 at 1:47 AM - Reply

    I love condiments and indeed they can either take off the plate or completely ruin it! This one is definitely a keeper!

  20. Sandhya August 25, 2017 at 3:11 PM - Reply

    What a yummy and versatile sauce! perfect for the summer!

  21. Frank Fariello August 26, 2017 at 7:38 AM - Reply

    I must say, this sauce sounds awfully nice. I’ve never come across it, but I can tell just by reading the recipe it’s delicious. (Sounds a bit like a salmoriglio but with tomatoes.) Perfect for a simply cooked fillet of fish or chicken!

    • chef mimi August 26, 2017 at 7:42 AM - Reply

      I know! Why haven’t we heard of this!!! I’ve already made it again and put it on everything!

  22. Julie is Hostess At Heart August 26, 2017 at 4:34 PM - Reply

    I love a great sauce it can really elevate a meal and this one is perfect with the fish.

    • chef mimi August 26, 2017 at 5:19 PM - Reply

      It was so good I’ve already made it again!

  23. Cocoa & Lavender August 26, 2017 at 5:29 PM - Reply

    This is one of my favorite sauces – we use it often when grilling fish, seafood or chicken… but, as you suggest, wwe use it oftehy we use it often when grilling not for pork, lamb, an beef!

    • chef mimi August 27, 2017 at 6:58 AM - Reply

      Finally, someone who has actually heard of this! Where has it been all my life?!!

  24. myhomefoodthatsamore September 2, 2017 at 9:48 AM - Reply

    Lovely, thank you for sharing.

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