salsa verde 7

salsa verde


This past summer we decided to plant tomatillos in our garden. I fell in love with the little green guys in Mexico, where I watched the wonderful women at the community center slam together some salsa verde every day for the kids who came after school. I had never tried it before (and honestly at the time it took some getting used to), but now I wouldn’t want to go without it. 

So this summer we wanted to plant some tomatillos, and after a frantic drive around town trying to find any garden store that sold tomatillo plants (Lowes was the winner, surprisingly), we shoved them in the ground and hoped for the best. (we’ll try them from seeds in the future; this year we got a late start on the growing season). What I had read about tomatillo plants was that 1) they can handle harsh conditions and 2) they go crazy, and both of these turned out to be true. While other plants struggled and withered and honestly didn’t pull their weight, the tomatillos plowed on and grew like they didn’t understand the rules. As a result, we ended up with two huge bushes overshadowing our garden, and hundreds of little green globes filling up our kitchen.

salsa verde

The answer to this bounty, of course, was to make more salsa verde than we had ever seen in one place in our life. Tomatillos are fairly tart and intense when raw, but when roasted they become soft and sweet and complex. So far I’ve only used them successfully in salsa verde, but I’ve used salsa verde successfully in everything. I love the stuff. It’s a great condiment for many mexican dishes, but it works equally well with eggs or as a base for a chili or as the star in one of my favorite dishes, chilaquiles.

It’s also pretty simple to make, so now it’s your turn. If you don’t have tomatillo plants taking over your garden, look for them in Mexican stores or even sometimes in large chain groceries. Smaller and greener are generally better; don’t let your instincts with tomatoes affect your judgment here. The fruit should fill the husk (that means it’s ripe) and be firm and intact.

I learned the basic concept for this recipe from my casual meals in Mexico, but the official measurements come from Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen (amazon link).

The Recipe:

1 pound tomatillos, husked and rinsed

1 medium white onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, toasted

1-3 serrano chiles (or small jalapeños) depending on heat desired

1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro

1 tsp salt

pinch sugar, if necessary

Spread the tomatillos out on a sheet pan and place right under the broiler on high for five minutes, until roasted and blackened in spots. Turn the tomatillos, and go another five minutes. Set aside.

Place the garlic cloves and chiles directly on a burner at medium heat, turning occasionally until blacked in spots and soft. Remove skin from garlic and stem from chiles (as well as seeds and ribs if you want a milder heat).

Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Or, if you like a chunkier salsa, blend less and add the onions and cilantro separately before blending briefly again. If the salsa seems too tart (this depends on your tomatillos), feel free to add a pinch of sugar to the mix.

salsa verde

That’s it! Simple, but delicious, and extremely useful. What do you eat with your salsa verde?

7 thoughts on “salsa verde

  1. Reply Andrea J Dec 30, 2011 10:48 pm


    Is there any chance that I could get your chilaquiles recipe? I would absolutely make your salsa verde and tortillas…but what then?!

    This site is fantastic!!

    • Reply Todd Dec 31, 2011 1:23 am

      glad you like! I’m planning on doing a post on chilaquiles as soon as I can, since they’re one of my favorites. thanks for chiming in.

  2. Reply Andrea J Feb 1, 2012 11:48 am

    I just saw the recipe–thank you! Also delightful to me is the photo where the apron I made for Rachel just appears :-)

    I have been cooking my way through several of your recommendations, and they’ve all been hits.

  3. Reply Todd Feb 1, 2012 3:21 pm

    great! which ones have you been trying? Rachel wears that apron all the time, it’s sweet.

  4. Reply Andrea J Feb 3, 2012 10:40 am

    I have made the pizza dough several times–particularly helpful was the tip about how to handle (or not handle too much!) the dough.

    I made your yogurt remoulade for grilled cheese–loved that!

    Pulled pork…though I used my own spice recipe, your explanation of things was a giant help.

    Pretzel rolls–I made them with whole wheat pastry flour, which I probably wouldn’t do again. They were good, but a little too dense. Also, the baking soda boiling water reacted with my pot and left a stain. The pot still cooks, so I don’t care…but do you know why this happened?

    Bread–I’ve been sticking with my own recipes, but you’re inspiring me to get off the grocery store bread aisle :-) I’ve become aware of a new product for sandwich loaves–it’s called a pullman pan, has a lid and squared-off edges, and results in a delightfully-easy-to-cut rectangular loaf.

    Those are the ones I can recall right now. I plan to try tortilla-making and salsa verde, and then chilaquiles, next…but the arancini is pretty interesting, too.

    • Reply Todd Feb 3, 2012 12:02 pm

      wow that’s great! I’m really glad you tried all that, maybe you should be a quality control consultant chef.

      I don’t know why the pot reacted; what material is it made of? Did you wait to add the soda until after it started boiling?

      I’ve seen some of those sandwich pans I think, I’d like to try them out. My loaf pans are pretty short, I think it would be cool to try making some more the length of supermarket loaves.

      Thanks for all the great feedback!

  5. Reply Andrea J Feb 3, 2012 4:45 pm

    The pot is aluminum–a calphalon saucepan, not the non-stick kind. And yes, I did wait to add the soda until after it started boiling. I’m good with instructions :-) Like I said, I don’t care, since the pot still cooks and I am not currently showcasing my cookware…but I thought it was an interesting food science outcome and wondered if you’d heard about it.

    I can’t believe I forgot from my earlier comments about what I’ve made…chicken stock! I’m on my third batch, and am a total believer. I had never considered it before reading your instructions, but you gave me confidence to try, and I will testify to it being both easy and a superior product.

    About the bread pans…I know one style/composition is getting better reviews than the others. I don’t have the cash to buy them today, but if you list them on your site, I’ll buy them via a trip here when I do.

    I would be delighted to serve as quality control chef…I think that means I just let you know how things go as I give them a try, right? And, if not quality control, with our family size I’ve at least got quantity control nailed :-)

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