I love salsa verde. Tangy and intensely green, it's especially appealing at this time of year - like a spring tonic after months of slightly stodgy root vegetables and heavy winter food. So when tomatillos (salsa verde's key ingredient) showed up at our village grocer's the other week, I couldn't resist buying some.
Tomatillos, like tomatoes, belong to the nightshade family - but tomatillos are firmer than their tomato cousins, and much more tart. A mature tomatillo is bright green, and may be covered with a papery husk; the skin has a slightly sticky coating which remains even after washing (this is entirely normal).
The ingredients for salsa verde are simple and few: raw or roasted tomatillos, hot peppers, scallions, cilantro, and salt - all whirled together into a chunky sauce.
I like to core, then roast the tomatillos slightly to release their juices and intensify the flavour - but you can skip these steps if you like. (Coring creates a little well to collect the tangy juice.)
Try salsa verde layered with cheese in quesadillas, or spooned over eggs for a lively take on huevos rancheros. As a topping for chicken enchiladas, it makes a pleasant change from red sauce. I've even used it, with grated jack cheese, as a filling for yeast rolls. (Perilously delicious.)
|Wake up your eggs with salsa verde|
Salsa verde is also the perfect complement to pork. We drizzled ours over simple tacos filled with what I call "cheater carnitas" (pork roasted in a crockpot until tender, removed from drippings and shredded in a shallow layer on a sheet pan, then sprinkled with chopped onion and heated in a 350º oven until onions are soft and meat is crispy at the tips).
Simple Salsa Verde - yields about 2 cups
3/4 lb. tomatillos, husked, rinsed, and stemmed (about 6 medium fruit)
3 serrano peppers, coarsely chopped
(I am a spicy-food wimp, so I use one jalapeño with seeds and ribs removed)
1 bunch scallions (green onions), coarsely chopped
1 large bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Lightly core and roast tomatillos (if desired) under broiler for 5-7 minutes until juicy and slightly charred. Cool slightly (or completely - either is fine). Do not chop roasted fruit or you'll lose the flavourful juice.
(If you skip the roasting step, coarsely chop the raw tomatillos, and add a few tablespoons of water when blending your salsa to attain desired texture.)
In a blender or food processor, puree tomatillos and chopped pepper(s) until chunky. Add remaining ingredients and puree until no large chunks remain. Enjoy!
Salsa verde keeps for about a week in the refrigerator - if you can make it last that long. We had no problem polishing off this batch in record time. (In fact Mr. M likes to scoop it up with a spoon and eat it plain.)
You can of course buy salsa verde in a jar - I like Herdez brand for its authenticity and short ingredient list (preservative-free, and no mysterious "natural flavors" or "spices" which are usually a cover for MSG). But sometimes it's just more fun to make your own.
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