Sometimes I have to remind myself that simple is best. Scratch that—I’m always reminding myself that simple can be better. It’s hard for us analytical perfectionist types to keep things simple. To let them be. To give up control over the outcome and accept that so many variables are outside of our reach.
Let’s take this salsa, for example. It was originally a component in a healthier seven-layer dip concept, but the salsa blew the dip out of the water. One part, on its own, was so much better than the other six combined. Then, I made it a couple more times, with the same ingredients, but each time, it tasted a little different.
That’s just what happens with a simple recipe made with natural ingredients. You can pick up each tomatillo, squeeze it to gauge ripeness and peel back the husk to look for bright green skin, but you don’t know how flavorful it really is until you taste it. Add eleven more tomatillos to the mix, plus jalapeño that may or may not be crazy spicy, plus onion and cilantro of varying freshness, and you’ll never make a batch of salsa that tastes quite like another.
It will, however, be delicious, fresh and so much better than the salty jarred varieties. I can guarantee that much. That’s the beauty of simple recipes made with fresh, natural ingredients—they’re inevitably awesome. Don’t over think it. Trust the recipe. Adjust to suit your taste buds.
I’ve posted somewhere around 450 recipes on this blog, and I still experience a little trepidation when I attempt something new. How is this going to work? Will it turn out well? Will it be good enough to share with others? Maybe you can relate. Somehow, I hadn’t tried making homemade versions of the jarred salsas that so often disappoint until lately. I’m never going back!
This salsa verde is fresh, bright and not too salty like those store-bought versions. I tried making it with raw tomatillos, but they’re borderline sour. Roasting them really brings out their best side. Tomatillos look like small green tomatoes with husks, but they aren’t tomatoes—they’re cousins. I’ve had an easy time finding them at grocery stores lately.
Some roasted tomatillo salsas I’ve tried taste too roasted/smoky, but not this one. You can also control just how roasted those tomatillos get when you roast them yourself. I think it turned out just right with the times specified in the recipe below.
Salsa verde is great with pretty much anything that goes well with regular tomato salsa. I think it’s especially fantastic with sweet potatoes (check out these burritos and this burrito bowl) and eggs (like huevos rancheros, frittatas and breakfast tacos).
I also really love creamy avocado salsa verde, which you can make by throwing some diced avocado into the mix. I decided to divide my salsa in two and blend one avocado into one-half of the salsa. I’ve included instructions below.
- 1½ pounds tomatillos (about 12 medium), husked and rinsed
- 1 to 2 medium jalapeños, stemmed (omit for mild salsa, use 1 jalapeño for medium salsa and 2 jalapeños for hot salsa, note that spiciness will depend on heat of actual peppers used)
- ½ cup chopped white onion (about ½ medium onion)
- ¼ cup packed fresh cilantro leaves (more if you love cilantro)
- 2 tablespoons to ¼ cup lime juice (1 to 2 medium limes, juiced), to taste
- ½ to 1 teaspoon salt, to taste
- Optional variation: 1 to 2 diced avocados, for creamy avocado salsa verde
- Preheat the broiler with a rack about 4 inches below the heat source. Place the tomatillos and jalapeño(s) on a rimmed baking sheet and broil until they're blackened in spots, about 5 minutes.
- Remove the baking sheet from the oven, carefully flip over the tomatillos and pepper(s) with tongs and broil for 4 to 6 more minutes, until the tomatillos are splotchy-black and blistered.
- Meanwhile, in a food processor or blender, combine the chopped onion, cilantro, 2 tablespoons lime juice and ½ teaspoon salt. Once the tomatillos are out of the oven, carefully transfer the hot tomatillos, pepper(s) and all of their juices into the food processor or blender.
- Pulse until the mixture is mostly smooth and no big chunks of tomatillo remain, scraping down the sides as necessary. Season to taste with additional lime juice and salt, if desired. If you'd like to make creamy avocado salsa verde, let the salsa cool down before blending in 1 to 2 diced avocados (the more avocado, the creamier it gets).
Storage suggestions: This salsa verde should keep well in the refrigerator, covered, for at least 1 week. If you added avocado, it will keep well for about 3 days—be sure to press plastic wrap against the top surface to prevent oxidation.
Change it up: Feel free to substitute red tomatoes for a more traditional roasted tomato salsa.