Growing up we always had a choice of two kinds of salsa—a red tomato salsa which we made from scratch, and a salsa verde, or green salsa, which we got from a bottle (Victoria brand).
As a kid I always thought that green salsa was made from green tomatoes, but actually it is made with a distant relative of the tomato from Mexico, the naturally tart tomatillo (pronounced “toe-mah-TEE-yo”). A tomatillo looks like a little green tomato covered with a husk. It’s not in the same genus as tomatoes, though both are in the nightshade family (along with eggplants and peppers).
Salsa verde is really easy to make from scratch, all you need are tomatillos, onion, jalapeño, lime, and cilantro.
To make the salsa verde, you will need to cook the tomatillos, which you can do by either boiling them, broiling them in the oven, or pan roasting them. All three approaches are quick and easy, though with broiling or pan roasting, you get added flavor from the searing of the tomatillos.
Then it’s a quick spin in the blender with the other ingredients, easy!
Tomatillo Salsa Verde Recipe
To cook the tomatillos, you can either roast them in the oven, brown them on the stovetop, or boil them. Roasting in the oven or browning on the stovetop will deliver more flavor. Each way works, though boiling is a more common way to cook the tomatillos.
Garlic is optional. You can either cook a few cloves with the tomatillos in any of these steps, or add one or two raw garlic cloves when you go to blend the salsa.
- 1 1/2 lb tomatillos
- 1/2 cup chopped white onion
- 2 cloves (or more) garlic (optional)
- 1/2 cup cilantro leaves
- 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
- 2 Jalapeño peppers OR 2 serrano peppers, stemmed, seeded and chopped (you can use whole for more heat if you want)
- Salt to taste
1 Remove papery husks from tomatillos and rinse well.
2a Oven Roasting Method Cut the tomatillos in half and place cut side down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Add a few garlic cloves in their skin (if using) Place under a broiler for about 5-7 minutes to lightly blacken the skins of the tomatillos.
2b Pan Roasting Method Coat the bottom of a skillet with a little vegetable oil. Heat on high heat. Place the tomatillos in the pan and sear on one side, then flip over and brown on the other side. Remove from heat.
2c Boiling Method Place tomatillos in a saucepan, cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove tomatillos with a slotted spoon.
3 Pulse in blender: Place the cooked tomatillos, lime juice, onions, garlic (if using), cilantro, chili peppers in a blender or food processor and pulse until all ingredients are finely chopped and mixed.
4 Season to taste with salt. Cool in refrigerator.
Serve with chips or as a salsa accompaniment to Mexican dishes.
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