This past year, I’ve been making many variations of fresh salsas.
I experiment with an array of different types of tomatoes, fresh and dried chilies, onions and citrus. Some of my salsas lend themselves to a more rustic texture while I blend others until they’re velvety-smooth.
From mild to spicy, sweet to tangy, and others taking on a pleasing smokiness, the world of salsas is quite diverse.
Over the past couple of weeks, the emergence of fresh tomatillos started popping up from our local farmers. Tomatillos are one of my favorite items to use as the base of the salsa. Once one removes the papery husk encased around the tomatillo, it is very similar in appearance to a green tomato, which makes sense seeing that the word tomatillo means “little tomato.”
Tomatillos are texturally similar to tomatoes, but biting into a yellowish-green tomatillo is a much more pleasing experience than biting into an unripened tomato.
Delivering a subtle underlying sweetness, with notes of tangy lemon flavor, tomatillos are excellent in both raw and cooked preparations. They are most commonly used as the base of a salsa verde (green salsa), enjoyed with chips, over tacos and enchiladas, or as a simmering sauce for chicken and pork preparations.
Tomatillos are often used in combination with hot chilies, due to their ability to balance out the spiciness.
This week I prepared a roasted tomatillo and pepper salsa verde. I incorporated roasted Anaheim chilies and orange bell pepper instead of my usual choice of jalapeño or serrano chilies for a slightly different flavor profile. I use a little garlic, green onion, cilantro, lemon juice and salt to round it out.
Once made, this salsa verde can be kept refrigerated and remains good to use for a couple of weeks on an array of dishes. Spoon this salsa verde over scrambled eggs, add it to a homemade tostada, serve it over rice and beans, or use it as a simmering sauce.
Roasted Tomatillo and Pepper Salsa Verde
11/2 pounds tomatillos, husks discarded, scrubbed.
2 Anaheim chilies
1 orange bell pepper
2 cloves garlic
3 green onions, chopped
1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped.
Juice from 1 lemon or 2 limes
1/2 teaspoon salt (add more to taste if needed)
This can be prepared in a preheated oven under the broiler, or on the top rack of the grill. (I use the grill).
Put the tomatillos on a piece of foil. Place them on the top rack of the grill at high heat.
Place the peppers directly on the grill’s top rack.
Close the grill lid and cook for a few minutes. Then flip the tomatillos and rotate the peppers. Continue until the tomatillos have nice blister marks on each side and peppers are well blistered. This takes about 10 minutes total.
Remove from heat.
Once peppers are cool enough to handle, remove the skins and discard stem, seeds and membrane.
Place the tomatillos, peppers and remaining ingredients in a blender. Pulsate a few times. For a really smooth salsa, blend thoroughly.
For a more textured salsa, pulse until desired consistency is reached.
Yield: Makes about 3 cups of salsa.