Posted by: gbdub | September 18, 2009

Green with Envy… Salsa Verde


There are 3 things that make this inevitable: 1) I have a weakness for Southwest/Mexican/Tex-Mex cooking, 2) I have a nice new food processor and its novelty has not worn off, and 3) I live in Phoenix and have ready access to tomatillos, which was not the case in Michigan.

So that’s pretty much the only clever thing I have to say about this. This is a basic salsa verde recipe I glommed together from a few sources on the interwebs. Like most salsas, the ratio of ingredients is very much a matter of personal taste and how ripe / hot / sweet your various bits of produce are. So treat this as a starting point and experiment. Just make sure you have enough tortilla chips.


There is a lot of green here. That’s why it’s salsa verde, of course. And, being salsa, it’s mostly just a collection of produce.


Peel your onion and cut it in half. Remove the papery husk type things from your tomatillos, and wash off the sticky gunk that coats the inner skin.


Here I have the tomatillos and cut onion roasting on the grill. I also have the garlic roasting in the aluminum foil in the upper right. Don’t have the heat too high, as you’re actually trying to cook the tomatillos through. They’ll turn from bright green to olive, and the skins should have some charring on all sides.


Cut your cooked onion into food processor friendly chunks. The stuff on the bottom is roasted garlic squeezed from its skins. It smells awesome.


Here’s where it got messy. I had intended to peel the tomatillos, but they were really too soft and this was a horrible idea. I won’t show the ensuing produce carnage (mostly because I love my camera too much to get tomatillo juice on it). Anyway, I settled for just peeling off the particularly charred bits. Next time, I’ll just roast a bit more lightly and use ’em whole.


Dice your jalepenos (I removed the stems, but kept everything else) in your food processor. Do not, under any circumstances, take a big whiff of the processor bowl.


Process the tomatillos with lime juice, cilantro, and salt. You could really do this all at once if you have a big processor and/or are making a small batch, but I found it easier to work a few tomatillos at a time. Pick your own level of chunkiness.

My photography is a bit weak on this post, but at this point I essentially just mixed everything together in a big bowl and popped it in the fridge for the flavors to meld.


I served this on chicken tacos. I made them with boiled, shredded, and lightly seasoned chicken breast, monterey jack cheese, and sour cream, all on fresh tortillas. It was a good mix. For this application, it was actually nice to have the salsa a bit on the mild side so you could load up on it and get a lot of the great flavor of the roasted tomatillos.

Roasting the ingredients gives the salsa a rich, mellow, and lightly smoky flavor . Leaving things raw will give a brighter, sharper, more herbal flavor. There are few wrong ways to make this, so do whatever sounds good.

Salsa Verde (bodged together from Simply Recipes and Food Network)


  1. 1 1/2 lb. tomatillos
  2. 1 medium yellow onion
  3. 3 jalepeno or serrano peppers, stems removed (adjust for desired hotness)
  4. 4 cloves garlic
  5. 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
  6. juice of one lime
  7. salt

Husk and clean the tomatillos. Peel the onion and cut in half. Wrap the garlic cloves, skins and all, in a packet of aluminum foil.

Heat a grill to medium high.  Place the onion halves, cut side down, on the upper rack (or elsewhere with indirect heat). Place the packet of garlic in a similar location. Over direct heat, roast the tomatillos, turning occasionally, for ~7-10 minutes. When cooked through, the tomatillos should change in color from bright green to olive, and will have some light charring on all sides. The onion halves should be a bit black on the bottom and somewhat softened throughout. The grlic will turn very soft when roasted through.

With everything removed from the grill, cut the onion halves into chunks. Skin the roasted garlic – you should be able to cut an end off of each clove and squeeze the flesh out of the skin. Cut the peppers into thick slices, retaining the seeds. In batches, pulse the tomatillos, onion, peppers, garlic, cilantro, and lime juice in a food processor until finely chopped (pick your level of chunkiness – I like this salsa relatively smooth). Transfer to a bowl or storage container. Mix well with a spoon, and season to taste with salt (I use about a teaspoon).  Keep in the refrigerator.

Makes 3-4 cups.

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