Monday, October 14, 2013

In the Garden: Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

Things are winding down in the garden. I will probably start pulling up the tomato plants soon. For the first time this year, I planted a tomatillo plant and I wasn't sure what to expect. But I quickly learned that tomatillo plants need a good amount of space. While you can keep tomatoes somewhat contained in cages, tomatillos are more of a sprawling plant that can grow 3 feet tall as well as wide. It shot out branches into the nearby basil plants. Since it likely didn't get the sun it needed, my tomatillos were somewhat smaller than normal; though maybe normal for home gardens. One of my goals in planting tomatillos this year was to make salsa verde.

Now I luckily live in a part of the country where I can usually find fresh tomatillos in my supermarket. But the other day in my local supermarket I noticed that canned tomatillos are an option. You will find a variety of opinions about how they compare to fresh but if you have no other choice it's an option.

While we're on the topic, salsa may be one of those condiments (like ketchup and mustard) that don't get used on a daily basis. So you spend $4 on a bottle of salsa and a few months later you find it has turned into a science experiment. I recently read an article suggesting that a more frugal alternative is to spend less than a buck for a 7 ounce can of the highly-rated Herdez salsa verde. You are more likely to use it up before it gets bad. And even if it does go bad, you're out a buck. Look for the 7 ounce can next time you're at the market. I have walked past it all these years because it's not in the same place as the bottled salsas.

Now to the salsa that I made during halftime of the most recent 49er game:

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

  • 12 good sized tomatillos
  • 3-4 Serrano chiles (4=a very spicy salsa so judge accordingly)
  • 1/3 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup white onion, finely chopped and rinsed

I will let Rick describe the recipe for you and then some.

My variation was to add both the chopped cilantro and onions into the food processor right towards the end. It was a good way to really incorporate the cilantro and onions into the salsa. Garlic and lime juice can also be introduced as additional ingredients. You can always thin it with water as well.

More resources:
LA Times article 
Bonnie Plants: Growing Tomatillos
Sunset Magazine article
YouTube video