I am officially smitten with tomatillos. The lively, citrusy relative of the tomato, a key ingredient in Mexican and Central American cooking, is as versatile as it is easy to work with. Apparently I’m not alone in my infatuation. When I told colleagues last week of my Chicken Chili Verde adventures, one said she’d made a big pot of her own the week before. And my creative director shared his go-to salsa recipe, a no-cook salsa verde made of tomatillos and just four other ingredients, one of them being salt.
My own version adds one more ingredient to the list, and the only one that doesn’t come from a plant is salt. Nothing is cooked. You cut up a few things, throw them in a food processor or blender and hit the pulse button maybe a dozen times. Done.
Pulsing (instead of puréeing) will create the nice granular texture you see in the photo. If you prefer a smoother, more saucy salsa, you can purée it, adding a little water or lime juice if needed.
Tomatillos are the star of this salsa, but all the ingredients make important contributions. Cilantro adds its own citrus/sage/parsley note. Red onion and garlic deliver some bite. And jalapeño or Serrano peppers bring the heat (you can control the heat by using all, some or none of the seeds and ribs in the peppers) along with distinct peppery taste. The salt does what it does best — bringing out the other ingredients’ flavors.
Regarding the heat, peppers vary in their heat. Right now, the jalapeños we’re getting run hot. I used half the seeds and ribs of a jalapeño pepper, and it provided plenty of kick.
Get creative. This salsa — and for that matter, most salsas, whether homemade or store-bought — can go way beyond the party table. Spoon salsa over scrambled eggs or refried beans. Or pork chops, grilled chicken or pan-seared tilapia fillets. You can even stir some into cottage cheese for a lively, healthy snack.
Tomatillo Salsa Verde
Makes a generous cup of salsa
about 1/2 pound tomatillos (4 to 6, depending on size)
1/3 cup chopped red onion
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 jalapeño or 2 Serrano peppers, stemmed, seeded (or not) and chopped
1/2 to 2/3 cup cilantro leaves, lightly packed
1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more as needed
1. Husk, rinse and quarter tomatillos. Place in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Add all other ingredients.
2. Pulse until you reach desired consistency, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed. The tomatillos will break down surprisingly quickly, so keep an eye on your salsa. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt, if needed.
3. Serve immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Related post on Blue Kitchen: Chicken Chili Verde