Tomatillos are interesting little creatures. They live in delicate papery husks and have a tart lemony flavour that screams to be turned into spicy salsa verde. They are also a real pleasure to grow because of their prolific nature: you can get several jars of salsa verde from one single plant! We recently began harvesting our tomatillos and had a bit of a salsa verde-making marathon.
Salsa verde is a staple in Mexican cooking and it’s delicious with corn chips, in tacos, on scrambled eggs, and in enchiladas. There are so many ways to eat it and it can take a dish to a whole other level. What’s your favorite way to enjoy salsa verde?
When making salsa verde, there are two camps: those that like to cook the tomatillos first (either boil them or roast them), and those who prefer a raw salsa. Last year, I tried both kinds. To me, they are equally delicious, though quite different in flavor and color. The raw salsa is fresh, almost sweet and for lack of a better description tastes very green. The cooked tomatillo salsa is more rich, tart, and creamy. This year, purely because of time constraints, I chose to make the raw salsa only. The recipe below provides instructions for both the cooked or raw versions.
I’ve often wondered what else you can make (other than salsa verde) with tomatillos so I recently asked my Kitchen Vignettes Facebook readers if they knew of other ways to use them. Many people chimed in with some fabulous ideas. Stop by my Facebook page and join in the conversation!
Tomatillos should be harvested / purchased when they are bright green, firm to the touch, and the fruit should fill up the husk. It’s ok if they are starting to outgrow their husk and bursting through. You’ll notice that when you remove their husks and wash them, tomatillos are covered in a sticky substance and this is completely normal, don’t panic! Give them a good rinse but don’t worry if they’re still a little on the sticky side, it’s part of their unusual charm.
Enjoy your salsa verde!
- About 1 pound tomatillos, husks removed and rinsed
- 1 small bunch of cilantro (about a cup, roughly chopped)
- 2 to 3 hot green chili peppers (serranos or jalapeños work well - the quantity you use is entirely up to you, start with less and add more depending on how hot you like your salsa)
- 1/2 small lime, freshly squeezed
- 1/2 small onion (about 1/4 cup, chopped)
- 1 to 2 cloves of garlic
- Salt, to taste
- To make raw salsa (salsa verde cruda): Roughly chop all the ingredients (except the lime and salt) and place in a food processor. Start with one chili and add more as needed, depending on how spicy you like it. Blend until your salsa has reached a smooth consistency (small chunks are ok). Add the lime juice and salt, tasting and adding as needed, and give one final whir. If your salsa has too much liquid simply spoon it off. But a little liquid is fine, it's tasty stuff! Keep your salsa in the fridge for up to a week.
- To make cooked salsa (salsa verde cocida): Place the tomatillos (chopped in half and cut side down) and half the onion on an oiled roasting pan. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes at 450F until soft. (If you wish, you can switch to broil for the last few minute to lightly char your tomatillos for a grilled smoky flavor). Place everything in the food processor, as for the raw salsa and puree.
Yield: about 2 1/2 cups
Aube Giroux is a food writer and filmmaker who shares her love of cooking on her farm-to-table blog, Kitchen Vignettes.
Aube is a passionate organic gardener and home cook who likes to share the stories of how food gets to our dinner plates. Her work has been shown on television and at international film festivals. In 2012, she was the recipient of Saveur Magazine’s Best Food Blog award in the video category.