Roasted Tomatillo Salsa (Salsa Verde) Two Ways

Several weeks ago, I was hoping for one last haul of plums at the farmer’s market, but it was not to be.  As I made it to the last stall, it looked like I’d be leaving with my canvas bag still tucked into my purse.  (Lest you think I am too virtuous, I was actually impressed with myself for remembering it that day.  Good intentions don’t always translate into action for me).  But over at the edge of that last stall was a basket full of of bright yellow-green orbs in a papery skin.  Tomatillos!  And since I’d  had a disappointing visit so far, I happily filled (overfilled?) my bag.  Victory from the jaws of defeat and all that.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa (1 of 6)

I love these little twists on the familiar–like tomatoes, but a little more sour than sweet.  Wrapped up in a husk that is easy, and fun, to peel away.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa (2 of 6)

I suppose I could have tried to figure out how to can this, but just as for my tomatoes, I took the easy way out:  the freezer!  (Yes it’s getting a bit full in there).  This also meant I got to try some recipes for tomatillo salsa from my Rick Bayless cookbook: Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen: Capturing the Vibrant Flavors of a World-Class Cuisine.  It’s with good reason that Rick Bayless’s is the first Mexican cookbook I bought–he’s a fellow Oklahoman and Spanish major.  That’s probably the end of the similarities, as he has a restaurant empire and I’m a lawyer.  But please don’t hold that against him. I’m sure these failings are hard enough for him already without your disapprobation.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa (3 of 6)

I’m often indecisive, so the fact that I overbought on tomatillos actually saved me a lot of agonizing about which tomatillo salsa recipe to make.  I made two.  Both are roasted (which streamlines the process) but get their heat in different ways:  serrano for a straightforward burn, chipotle for a smokier hit.  Bayless suggests various ways to use these in his other recipes, and I’ll be sure to report back on these later adventures.

Roasting and toasting, that’s all there is to it.  The tomatillos go under the broiler, get flipped halfway through the process, and char and soften all at once.  (I lined my pans with parchment paper to ease cleanup).  Meanwhile, the garlic and peppers get charred on the stovetop.  Get out your tongs and a cast iron pan and that’s all you need.  It’s always a bit funny to me to cook something in a dry skillet–don’t I need to add oil?–but it’s easy and does the trick.  And unlike toasting nuts, which often seem to burn even under a careful eye, black charring is the goal here.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa (4 of 6)

I made some adaptations to these recipes since I planned on freezing them–raw onions and cilantro seemed best to add once I was serving these sauces, as my understanding is they don’t freeze well.  My hope is that they’ll add a fresh taste and people will be none the wiser about their stay in the freezer.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa (5 of 6)

Since I don’t trust my memory, though, you’ll see I’ve not only labelled but also written in what needs to be added to each portion.  I feel very…clever.

Mexican cooking is something I’m still learning about–see my guest post over on Dos Gildas, with an action shot of me leafing through my Rick Bayless cookbook!

Roasted Tomatillo Chipotle Salsa
 
Author:
Cuisine: Mexican

Ingredients
  • ½ pound tomatillos
  • 3-6 dried chipotle chiles (1/4 to ½ ounce)
  • 3 large unpeeled garlic cloves

Instructions
  1. Turn on the broiler and place an oven rack about 4 inches from the heat source and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Remove the husks from the tomatillos and wash with a bit of soapy water to get off any sticky residue. (A touch of vinegar also helps). Arrange on the prepared baking pan. Broil for about 5 minutes until the tomatillos start to blacken and blister. With tongs, flip over each tomatillo and return to the oven for another 5 minutes or so. When done the tomatillos will be soft and charred in spots all over. Let cool.
  3. Meanwhile, heat a dry skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium heat. Place the garlic and chiles on top, and turn occasionally. Press the dried chiles against the hot pan with a spatula so they toast evenly. It will take only a few seconds on each side for the chiles. Remove the stems and place the chiles in hot water for 30 minutes to rehydrate. The garlic will take about 15 minutes. Turn occasionally. It is done when charred and blackened in spots. Remove from the pan and allow to cool. Peel the garlic.
  4. When read to proceed, drain the chipotles and pulse everything together in the food processor until it is a chunky rough puree. (Be sure to scrape in the juice from the tomatillos that has accumulated in the pan).
  5. Add a little water to lighten the consistency if you like, and season with salt and sugar as needed.
  6. Freeze or serve.

Notes
You can also use canned chipotles en adobo. In this case, no toasting and rehydrating is necessary–just remove them from the adobo and add to the food processor when ready to puree.

 

Tomatillo Serrano Salsa
 
Author:
Cuisine: Mexican

Ingredients
  • 1 pound tomatillos
  • 5 serrano chiles (about one ounce)
  • 2 large unpeeled garlic cloves
  • 1 small (4 ounce) white onion, finely chopped.
  • ¼c loosely packed, chopped cilantro

Instructions
  1. Turn on the broiler and place an oven rack about 4 inches from the heat source and
  2. line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Remove the husks from the tomatillos and wash with a bit of soapy water to get off any sticky residue. (A touch of vinegar also helps). Arrange on the prepared baking pan.
  4. Broiler for about 5 minutes until the tomatillos start to blacken and blister. With tongs, flip over each tomatillo and return to the oven for another 5 minutes or so. When done the tomatillos will be soft and charred in spots all over. Let cool.
  5. Meanwhile, heat a dry skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium heat. Place the garlic and chiles on top, and turn occasionally. The chiles will take about 5 minutes, the garlic about 15. Again, they are done when charred and blackened in spots. Remove from the pan and allow to cool. Peel the garlic.
  6. When read to proceed, pulse everything together in the food processor until it is a chunky rough puree. (Be sure to scrape in the juice from the tomatillos that has accumulated in the pan).
  7. Freeze now, or proceed as follows:
  8. Finely chop the onion and rinse under cold water, drain well. Stir this into the salsa along with the cilantro, season with salt and sugar, and serve.

Notes
You can use jalapenos instead of serrano chiles.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa (6 of 6)

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6 thoughts on “Roasted Tomatillo Salsa (Salsa Verde) Two Ways

  1. This looks great, Sara! Great post. And I love salsa verde. Is there anything you can’t put it on? I’m going to make your two versions this weekend (and label those bags because who can remember anything these days :). I make a different Rick Bayless variation of the sauce– which I smoother on his spinach and mushroom enchiladas! Perfect for Dia de los Muertas, which is coming up :) Happy Thursday.

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