I suppose that in certain areas of the country what I’m about to say is laughable, but here goes: tomatillos have always intimated me. The kiwi-green orbs look as nonthreatening as tomatoes, but their papery husks and sticky skins—combined with their mysterious absence in recipes other than sauces—gave the impression that only a Mexican mother or trained chef could do the fruit justice. Then at the farmer’s market last week I spotted a beautiful basket of tomatillos calling my name; the time had come to find a recipe for my must-have condiment at every Mexican restaurant, salsa verde.
My intimidation was in vain, because the salsa couldn’t have been easier to make. Everything is tossed in the blender, thus eliminating all the chopping and dicing that goes into other fresh salsa and pico-de-gallo recipes. I learned that tomatillos are usually cooked—either roasted or boiled—before consuming. Though the former method probably yields a more complex sauce, I opted for the ease of the latter and boiled the tomatillos in salted water with onion, garlic, and jalapeño. They only need a few minutes of cooking, then it’s off to the blender with cilantro and lime (I used key lime) juice. The whole recipe takes less than 10 minutes from pot to plate and is the near replica of the spicy cool green salsa I crave from my favorite Mexican hole-in-the-wall joint.
Sadly, the restaurant is far away in my former college town, but they’d be proud of my mean salsa verde, which dually elevates a dish by introducing fiery heat and bright acidity. To date I’ve enjoyed it on ribeye fajitas, taco salad, and blue corn chips. An added perk of homemade tomatillo salsa is the price-less than three dollars for about 4 cups. I’m never buying the jarred stuff again.