Lemon Basil and Bee-Balm Chimichurri Recipe


Have you ever had a chimichurri? It’s an Argentinean sauce that is traditionally made with parsley and oregano, and is generally lighter than a pesto in texture. It gives a fresh and tangy flavor to heavy traditional barbecued meats. I didn’t have any fresh parsley, but I had a ton of lemon basil. As chimichurri generally has an acidic punch from vinegar, I went with the lemon basil and although we do have oregano growing, I decided to use our native bee-balm instead. It has a similar spicy oregano flavor. There are many different species of bee-balm, and I used the two that I have growing in my garden currently (Monarda fistulosa and M. didyma)

Lemon Basil and Bee-Balm Chimichurri

  • 1 cup fresh lemon basil leaves (you can substitute regular basil)
  • 1 cup bee-balm leaves (substitute oregano if you need to)
  • juice of one lime
  • one hot red pepper
  • half a cup of olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste

Add all ingredients except olive oil to food processor or blender and blend until garlic is minced completely and herbs are finely chopped. Add olive oil in slowly and pulse slowly until well incorporated. Keeps in the fridge for a week or so.

I served this sauce on grilled steak, roasted sweet potato and a salad of radish microgreens and foraged pomegranate, but you can get really creative with it. You could serve it over pasta, in lasagna instead of a traditional sauce, as a salad dressing, a sandwich spread etc. It’s just so delicious!


I suppose this recipe counts as a wild food recipe, as the bee-balm is a wild plant. I have always done my harvesting of bee-balm in the wild, but this year I decided that I was going to switch over to growing it myself in an effort to take a little pressure off of our wild spaces. It is most definitely a learning curve, and I am still not at the point where I can say that 100% of what I use is homegrown. Not even close. I have been seeing a lot about wildcrafting being an unethical/selfish practice on social media, and I have a lot to say about that. I’ve been writing a post about that very subject (I mean, the name of this blog and my company is Red Earth WILDCRAFTED- of course I have an opinion) I am going to sit on the blog post for a minute and see how my feelings evolve and then post it in the next few days. Regardless of whether your bee-balm is homegrown, wildcrafted or purchased, I hope you make this recipe and enjoy it abundantly!

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