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Eating Rome: Apicius’ Sauce for Lobster Tails

This sauce is essentially a dairy-free pesto, and it’s brilliant with seafood.

I can’t afford lobster, so I tested it on some king prawns and it was delicious. We could see this with a platter of little crab-cakes on a buffet table. That said, we reckoned it would go well with any white fish, and I honestly suggest it as a tartare sauce alternative next time you go the chippy!

I used leftovers as a spread on a humble fishfinger sandwich and congratulated myself for the genius idea.

Roman mosaic of caught fish
Ready for just the right sauce...


60g of fresh rue. We couldn’t find this anywhere, so we used rocket/arugula. Otherwise you could use chicory or even washed dandelion leaves!

½ a bunch of fresh mint

1 tsp cumin (you can toast and grind seeds, or like us cheat and use powder. If you do this, gently heat the powder in a tsp of olive oil)

½ tsp lovage seeds. (

These go a LONG WAY in this recipe. I did second version where I used celery salt, but you only need a pinch of this and if you use this sub, skip the fish sauce.)

75g toasted pine nuts or soaked cashews

1 tbsp honey

Splash of dry white wine

Splash of white wine vinegar

Colatura di alici

Cracked black pepper to taste


  • Toast and grind whole spices/seeds, or lightly sauté ground ones in a heavy pan on low heat. Remove.

  • Toast off the nuts in the same way.

  • Stick the spices, nuts and honey into your blender and blitz until as fine as possible. Though Apicius doesn’t mention it, a restrained drizzle of extra virgin olive oil might help you make the paste smoother.

  • Add in your greens and pulse until finely chopped, whilst slowly adding the wine. You only need enough wine to make a loose consistency, otherwise you’ll end up with a herbal cocktail. If your hand does slip, stick in a few more nuts to thicken it back up again.

  • Have a taste, and season with a dash of vinegar, colatura and cracked black pepper.


As I experimented with this, I went heavier and heavier on the mint and rocket than other versions. It makes it bright and fresh, with a lovely, underlying warmth from the cumin. I suggest, if worried about the sweetness of the honey, leaving it until last and adding it bit by bit, tasting as you go.

A little bit of this sauce goes a loooong way so we froze the leftovers in an ice cube tray to defrost in small amounts later, which worked relatively well. This was far and away my Mum’s favourite recipe tested.

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