Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Salsa Verde

One thing I quickly learned about living in D.C. is that it impossible to grow tomatoes. Not the plants themselves, just the fruit. Our backyard is home to some of the tallest tomato plants I have ever seen, but the minute the fruit begins to turn red, it disappears. Out of our walled backyard. Apparently, we have kleptomaniac squirrels.

This year, my neighbor (who shares our backyard) found a way to outwit the squirrels: grow green tomatoes! Either our squirrels aren't familiar with Mexican food, or they just don't like the color green -- but in either case, they rarely touch the tomatillos. Which is quite a loss for them, because our backyard is FULL of tomatillos. 

So I, of course, decided to make salsa.

Salsa Verde
loosely followed from Simply Recipes

A note on peppers: I actually used cayenne peppers in this salsa, since I had them on hand. The red flecks made my salsa look really pretty! I used two, and my salsa wasn't spicy at all. If you don't want too much spice in your salsa, I'd recommend using half the amounts of peppers listed below, then adding more slowly. I also recommend letting your salsa sit a day before you serve it--this greatly improves the flavors.

A note on sugar: Tomatillos are pretty tart when they are first ripe (firm & apple green colored), and sweeten as they ripen more (yellow-green colored). Generally, tomatillos are considered best when they just fill the husk and are bright green. Since I didn't want to waste any tomatillos from our bushes, I ended up using quite a few that were on the yellower end of the spectrum. Plus my husband likes sweet things, so I figured that wouldn't hurt. As a result, my salsa didn't need any sugar. If you use less ripe tomatillos, your's may.

1 1/2 lbs tomatillos
1/2 white onion
1/4 red onion
2 jalapenos or 1 serrano, stemmed and seeded
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
juice of 1 lime
salt & pepper
1/4 teaspoon sugar (optional)

1. Cook the tomatillos. You can a) boil them or b) roast them
      a) Boiling (the fast method): Remove husks and wash tomatillos. Place tomatillos in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for five minutes. Drain water.
      b) Roasting (the slow method): Remove husks and wash tomatillos. Cut tomatillos in half and arrange cut side down on a broiling pan. Broil on high heat until tops are slightly charred (about 6 or 7 minutes).
2. Place onions, peppers, and cilantro leaves in a food processor and process until chopped finely. Remove to large bowl and set aside.
3. Place cooked tomatillos in food processor and process until small chunks of pulp remain. 
4. Add tomatillos to bowl with onion mixture. Add lime juice, salt, pepper, and sugar. Stir well.
5. Refrigerate until ready to serve (preferably at least 24 hours). Adjust seasonings before serving.
(yes, I did line those all up just for the picture)

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