Salsa Verde means ‘green sauce' in Spanish. It gets the green from tomatillos (toe-MAH-tee-yoz), peppers and cilantro. First, what is a tomatillo? Even though they may look like tomatoes and ‘tomatillo’ means ‘little tomato’ in Spanish, they are not the same thing. Both tomatoes and tomatillos are nightshades, but they are very distantly related. Like third or fourth cousins. A green tomato is really bitter and very watery. Tomatillos are always green, much sweeter and crunchy. They taste like they look, bright and mildly floral. They are sometimes called husk tomatoes because they are covered in a dry brown husk. The fruit is sticky beneath the husk. They are most often used to make Salsa Verde.
Salsa Verde can be raw, boiled or roasted. I roasted the tomatillos and peppers to give my salsa a richer, smokier flavor. You can control the amount of smokiness by controlling the length of time you roast the tomatillos. Less smoke? Less char. More smoke? More char. I boiled the onions and herbs to remove the sharp bite they can have. You can skip this step if you like raw onions. You can also make your salsa spicier by using more peppers. Jalapeños can be substituted for Serranos.
Now that you have this mouthwatering, bright green sauce, how can you use it? Use it instead of red salsa in any dish. My husband prefers Salsa Verde. He eats it on tacos, as a chip dip, stirs it into the sauce when making Chicken Enchilada Suizas, and as a condiment on a Tex-Mex Burger.
Servings: About 3 cups of salsa
Hardware: A cutting board and knives, measuring spoons and cups, a pot, a wooden spoon, a roasting pan or a large cast iron skillet, a blender or a food processor
Time: Active time 15 minutes; Salsa in about 15 minutes
- 1 ½ pounds fresh tomatillos
- 2-3 Serrano peppers
- 3 cloves of garlic-unpeeled
- 1 small yellow onion (4-6 ounces)
- 1 cup water
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro
- ½ tablespoon oregano
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- Juice of ½ a lime
- Remove the husks from the tomatillos and rinse them under warm running water. They are sticky. Rub them until all the stickiness is gone. Dice the onion. Chop the herbs. Juice half the lime. Set everything aside.
- Cut the tomatillos in half. Cut the peppers in half long ways. Place the tomatillos and peppers cut side down on the roasting pan/cast iron skillet. Throw in the garlic. Broil the tomatillos on the top rack of the oven until they are slightly charred (5-7 minutes.) Remove from the oven.
- Bring the onions and herbs to a boil. Boil until them for about 10 minutes.
- Peel the garlic and snap the tops from the peppers. Place everything in the blender and pulse to desired chunkiness. Taste and adjust the salt.