october 21, 2016
There was a time when purchased salsa meant watery tomato product flecked with a few bits and occasionally livened with something tart and something providing heat. Serviceable, but not very exciting, and certainly not worthy of your chips or quesadillas or other homemade dishes.
Restaurant salsa was no better, catering to the tastes of an American public that wanted safe, familiar and not too exotic and especially not authentic. Flash forward to now when restaurants have upped their salsa game, offering variety and choice. Would you care for red, green or white? Mild, medium or hot? Just how hot? Even grocery stores have shelves full of salsas, from tame and familiar to gourmet and local small batch salsas. Salsas with black and white beans, roasted peppers of all stripes and heat levels than can melt asphalt! When I don’t have time to make my own, I opt for good brands without preservatives or chemical flavor enhancers. Sure, they don’t last as long once opened, but I have yet to throw out a jar of store bought salsa for infrequent use. There, I said it. I sometimes buy salsa at the store. But this column is all about the homemade, the kitchen crafted, the things you make with love for your family, your friends and your honored guests. And so today we make salsa, the easiest thing in the world, especially if you have a food processor, mini chopper or a handy stick blender.
Salsa verde, or green salsa, is aptly named for its (mostly) green ingredients. If you are short on time, you can even skip the cooking step of blanching the tomatillos and opt for a fresh, raw version. See my tomato avocado salsa for another easy no-cook recipe. This salsa, like those sold at the market without preservatives, is not for long storage in the fridge; you can hope for a couple weeks residence, if you always use a clean spoon to remove your portions.
This green sauce would be happy alongside Beef Tamale Pie, as a tortilla chip dip with Meyer Lemon Mezcal Cocktail or as a garnish for chilled Zucchini Cilantro Soup. The very best thing about this salsa is that you can make it as incendiary as you like. Add the jalapeño seeds and deliver a heavy handed shake of the ground chipotle powder if you like to see steam coming from your ears and believe a sauce is not righteous unless your lips burn.
recipe by Michele Humlan, The Good Eats Company
makes about 2 ½ cups
1 pound raw tomatillos,peeled and cut halves if small, cut quarters if large
4 ounce can mild diced green chiles, preferably brand without preservatives
½ cup sweet onion, chopped
1 cup cilantro leaves and (flavorful) stems, loosely packed
juice of one medium lime
1 jalapeño pepper, chopped – seeds included if you like heat
1 medium clove garlic, zested or minced finely
scant ½ teaspoon ground cumin
ground chipotle powder
- Bring water to boil in one quart saucepan with a generous pinch of kosher salt.
- Add cut tomatillos, and when water simmers (about 3-4 minutes), remove from heat and drain; let tomatillos cool to room temperature.
- In deep mixing bowl or nonreactive pot, process tomatillos with chiles, onion, cilantro, lime juice, jalapeño, garlic and cumin using a stick or immersion blender; alternately, process in large bowl of food processor or large mini chopper; mixture should be smooth but a little chunky.
- Add a pinch of salt and chipotle powder to taste; two good shakes will suffice if you have seeded the jalapeño, but if you can stand the heat, shake to your heart’s content.
- Salsa may also be made with raw tomatillos – volume will increase.
- Will last in fridge up to 2 weeks if clean spoon is used to remove portions.