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This tangy, bright salsa is the perfect accompaniment to tacos, quesadillas or a crunchy pile of tortillas for snacking.
And just like that, spring break 2018 is in the books. After a miserable March in every way imaginable, I was happy to throw some sundresses in a bag, get a little sun sprayed on, and head west with my guys for brighter skies. We more than nailed the r and r’s on this trip…it was nice mix of swim, sun, nature and you guessed it, good eats.
Every time I head to California I get a hankering for Mexican food. No offense east coast, but California crushes you in the Mexican-inspired cuisine department. Freshly pressed corn tortillas, melt-in-your-mouth carnitas, fire-roasted carne asada…all zesty and bright and not smothered with gloppy beans and piles of cheese. Don’t get me wrong, I love beans and cheese. But when you spend your day slow-roasting a hunk of pork and coaxing every morsel of flavor from it, then you want to savor that flavor, not cover it up.
I like to keep my taco toppings light and bright. A fatty cut of meat cries out for a little acid or a sprinkle of herbs. A simple squeeze of lime or pinch of fresh cilantro will get the job done, but today we’re going to step up our game with this roasted tomatillo salsa (aka salsa verde).
If you’ve seen tomatillos in the market before and high-tailed it the other way, then I encourage you to weave your way back. While tomatillos look suspiciously like hard, green tomatoes in little papery husks, they’re actually a different animal. Unlike tomatoes, tomatillos don’t ripen and change color, instead they remain green. Similarly, when you cook them their bright green color only changes to a more olive shade. They have a tart, tangy flavor that can be deepened by cooking (I suggest roasting) and they pair well with onions, herbs, and lime. You may notice that once you peel those husks off the tomatillos have a super sticky surface. Never fear…a little scrubbing in warm water and you’ll be left with a smooth, palatable skin.
You can use raw tomatillos in this recipe if you prefer or are pressed for time, but the salsa will be a little more sour and acidic. Take the extra fifteen or twenty minutes to roast the tomatillos and it will yield a deeper, more nuanced flavor. Plus we’re roasting a little garlic at the same time which adds a buttery, nutty roundness to the salsa.
Sure you can buy a pretty decent salsa verde in the store, but once you make your own there will be no turning back. I make extra to have on hand for snacking or for an impromptu taco night. Speaking of tacos, stay tuned for my margarita chicken taco recipe that I’ll be sharing just in time for Cinco de Mayo. And be sure to stock up on tomatillos before the big day because this salsa is the Ethel to it’s Lucy.
- 1 1/2 pounds tomatillos husks removed and well-rinsed in warm water
- 3 cloves garlic in their skins
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small jalapeño seeded and chopped
- 3 scallions white and pale green parts only, chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro chopped
- 1 tsp lime zest
- 2 Tbsp lime juice
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt and a few turns of black pepper
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and line a sheet pan with parchment paper or nonstick foil.
Cut the tomatillos in half through the stem and trim the end of the garlic cloves, leaving their skin intact. Toss the tomatillos and garlic cloves with olive oil and lay the tomatillos cut side down on the lined sheet pan alongside the garlic.
Roast for 15-20 mins or until the tomatillos are softened and lightly browned. Let the tomatillos and garlic cool slightly and remove the skins from the garlic and discard.
Place the tomatillos (and accumulated juices), garlic, and remaining ingredients in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until well blended.
Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for several days.