Seriously Meatless: Homemade Salsa Verde

Michael Natkin of the vegetarian blog Herbivoracious drops by most Wednesdays to share a delicious recipe and expand our vegetarian repertoire.

[Photograph: Michael Natkin]

Everyone loves salsa verde, the ubiquitous Mexican green sauce made from tomatillos. It is delicious as a simple dip for chips, and it can be used to sauce enchiladas, offered at the table for anything from quesadillas to tamales, or even act as the cooking medium for eggs.

You can, of course, buy jarred salsa verde, but if you make your own, you can get a much fresher flavor with a heady herbal component. Cilantro is typical, and epazote is great if you can get it. Otherwise, Mexican oregano makes a a delicious if non-traditional addition. Mexican oregano is a completely different plant than European oregano, with an intense, resinous flavor. You can find it at any Mexican grocery.

Tomatillos are only distantly related to tomatoes. The offer a pleasant, tangy backbone to the sauce. They are widely available and easy to work with, but if you are short on time, the canned variety is quite acceptable.

The final "frying" step isn't strictly necessary. Skipping it will give you a thinner sauce with an even brighter flavor. Frying the sauce makes it a little richer and thicker.

Salsa Verde (Mexican Tomatillo Sauce)

Seriously Meatless: Homemade Salsa Verde

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Ingredients

  • Up to 8 serrano chiles or up to 3 jalapenos, stems removed (the upper end of these ranges will be very hot!)
  • 1 pound tomatillos (about 1 dozen) or two 13-ounces cans, drained
  • 1/2 small white onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup packed cilantro springs and/or
  • A few leaves of epazote, and/or 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (if frying)

Procedures

  1. 1

  2. 2

    If using fresh tomatillos, remove the husk and boil in salted water for 10 minutes. You can also add the chiles to the water if you like. Drain.

  3. 3

    Puree the tomatillos, chiles, onion, garlic, salt, and herbs of your choice in a blender. Leave the purée a little coarse.

  4. 4

    If you want to fry the sauce, heat the oil in a small saucepan over a medium flame. Add in the sauce, watching out for any splatters. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes until it reaches the consistency you like.

  5. 5

    Taste and adjust the seasonings before serving.

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