I love salsa verde. There’s just something about its sweet-tart, acidic tang, and the way the flavor seems to shake up your taste buds with an addictive need to have a some more, and then maybe just a little more again. All in all, I think it is quite brilliant, and one of my favorite things to dip a chip into.
I don’t know why, given how much I love salsa verde, it took me years to get around to making it. Whenever I had Mexican food anywhere, if there was a choice between regular salsa and salsa verde, my chip went verde first and most frequently. I suppose that part of my avoidance had to do with a certain amount of ignorance. When I was younger, I’m not even sure I knew what tomatillos were, much less that they were the primary ingredient in salsa verde.
But when I worked at the Whole Foods Market corporate office in Austin, the store downstairs sold breakfast tacos. And they offered a delicious salsa verde to go with the breakfast tacos. It was while enjoying a breakfast taco with salsa verde that I had my light bulb moment. Something that good was worth making at home, so I started researching recipes.
I have tried making it in different ways. Some recipes called for sauteing the tomatillos and onions before blending them. Other recipes had you boiling the tomatillos in liquid and then processing them, liquid an all. Given that they all have the same basic ingredients, they were all pretty tasty. But I like this recipe the best.
I like this recipe primarily because it is delicious. But after that, I like this recipe because it is very quick and easy. And it calls for roasting the tomatillos under high heat so that the bits of charred skin get blended into the mix. That gives it an extra layer of flavor. And finally, broiled tomatillos still retain some of their texture, which in my mind, makes a difference in the quality of the final salsa.
let’s make some salsa verde
I like a little zap in my salsa verde, so I have to add some heat. Many of the other recipes I have tried called for jalapeños. Or sometimes jalapeños and poblanos. I happen to like it with a nice serrano pepper. Mainly because it is a little hotter than the jalapeño. Also because the jalapeño is bigger and therefore has more fleshy meat. Which means you taste more of it. I like to taste primarily tomatillo in my salsa verde. I want that fruity tang to shine through without tasting too much chili. So, for me, the serrano works best.
If you don’t like heat, omit the chili. If you like a lot of heat, use two. I used one serrano, with only the stem removed, keeping the ribs and seeds.
Start by placing the tomatillos and chili on a rimmed baking sheet, and roasting it about 4 inches under the broiler. Broil for about 5-6 minutes, then flip and broil the other side for the same amount of time.
Cut the stem off of the serrano, then transfer the tomatillos and chili to the bowl of a food processor, making sure to also transfer any juices released during the roasting process. You want to keep all that yummy flavor.
Add the onions and garlic.
Pulse several times to process everything.
Then add the cilantro, some salt, and half of the lime juice and pulse again until everything is incorporated.
At this point, I test it for the salt and lime juice. Tomatillos, especially ones that have not been completely cooked, have a tang of their own. Too much lime juice will make your salsa verde too sour. So taste it and adjust lime juice and salt until the balance is to your preference. I ended up using 1 teaspoon of lime juice for this batch.
At this point, you can serve your salsa verde or add it to whatever dish you may be making. It should be slightly warm still from the broiled tomatillos. Or you can chill it and serve it cold. If you want a creamy salsa, you can add a couple of heaping tablespoons of sour cream after it is chilled. But I prefer it just like this.
It didn’t take me long to get a chip into that bowl of goodness. I ate it while it was still warm.
And then I ate it again later that night when it was nice and chilled.
And I’m going to make some breakfast tacos tomorrow so I will consume some more of this delicousness with my breakfast tacos.
Basically, it will get eaten until every last drop is gone. Did I tell you how much I LOVE salsa verde? Take my word for it.
Make yourself a quick batch. It takes no time at all! Then you get to eat yours until it is all gone too!
- 1 pound fresh tomatillos, husked and rinsed
- 1 large serrano chili (omit or use more, if desired)
- ½ cup chopped onions
- 2 cloves garlic
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro, packed, thick stems removed
- 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice (more or less to taste
- Place an oven rack 4 inches below the top heating element and set the oven to broil.
- Arrange the tomatillos and serrano in a rimmed baking sheet and broil for 6 minutes.
- Turn the tomatillos and the serrano over and broil the other side for another 6 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, cut the stem off the serrano, and transfer the tomatillos, serrano, and any juices released during roasting into the bowl of a food processor.
- Add the onions and the garlic.
- Pulse until everything is incorporated.
- Add the cilantro, some salt, and part of the lime juice.
- Pulse to incorporate then taste.
- Adjust salt and lime juice as needed.
- Pulse one final time.
- Serve warm or cold.