Tangy tomatillo salsa verde sauce, that lovely green sauce that often tops chicken enchiladas. Chop the tomatillos and chilies, simmer with onion and spices then briefly puree in a blender. I often double the recipe and freeze for extra future use. If you buy jarred sauce, time to try homemade salsa verde. It's easy and delicious. There is so much you can do with it. See a list of 12 ideas at the end of the post.
How to Make Salsa Verde (Tomatillo Salsa)
Add chopped tomatillos, peppers, onion, garlic, and spices to a pan and simmer until the salsa is broken down and juicy, about 20 minutes. Pulse briefly in a blender, use right away or cool, refrigerate then freeze. That's it.
What are Tomatillos?
Technically a fruit, tomatillos look like little green tomatoes with a papery outer wrap. They have a tart, citrusy flavor and are generally available year round. When buying, peel back a bit of the paper and look for a smooth flesh and bright green color without black or shriveled areas. Wash tomatillos before using to remove the naturally sticky outer coating. Tomatillos look seedy when cut open, but don't try to seed them, just chop.
While green tomatillos are common at the market they come in colors of yellow, red and purple. For more information and nutrition try this article.
How to Work With Chili Peppers
Chili peppers add unique flavor and varying levels of heat. Anaheim chilies are long, thin and a bright shiny green with mild heat. Jalapeno peppers are smaller and usually a darker green with more heat but they are not crazy hot. The photo below shows an Anaheim pepper in my hand and jalapenos below in the produce bin.
If you are heat sensitive, start with half a jalapeno. Slice the jalapeno in half lengthwise and remove the white membrane and seeds. The membrane is where most of the heat is, not the seeds. Wearing disposable kitchen gloves when working with peppers is a good practice. If you don't, do not touch your eyes after working with them, even after washing your hands!
To Make Thicker Salsa
I've made this so many times as is but decided I wanted a thicker sauce, so now I use arrowroot starch to give it more body. Make it either way. Arrowroot is a grain-free thickener like cornstarch generally used as a 1:1 swap for cornstarch. Use arrowroot at the end of cooking and before boiling as continued heat reduces it's thickening power. Add a small amount of arrowroot to a little cool water and stir until smooth, then stir to your pan to prevent clumping.
How to Use Tomatillo Salsa Verde
While this is the sauce delicious for topping chicken enchiladas, there are many other uses. Try tomatillo salsa verde with:
- With grilled or baked fish like cod or halibut, and salmon
- Serve it with shrimp and scallops (great for shrimp tacos)
- Make this easy Salsa Verde Chicken with boneless, skinless breasts
- Use it straight as a dip for raw veggies
- For a creamier dip (if you do dairy), try mixing it with sour cream
- Add a spoonful to top a bowl of chili
- Use it with Huevos Rancheros instead of the more traditional red enchilada sauce
- Pour it over poached or scrambled eggs for a lift of flavor
- Use it with any kind of tacos as the sauce
- Chips and salsa anyone? My great weakness
- Baked nachos with cheese
- Serve aside grilled flank steak
Tomatillos are in the nightshade family along with tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and potatoes. If you have nightshade sensitivities this salsa might best be avoided.
- 2 ½ pounds tomatillos
- 1 Anaheim chili pepper
- 1 medium onion
- 2 large glaric cloves chopped
- 1 cup water
- 1 jalapeno chili pepper
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon arrowroot starch optional for thickening
- 2 tablespoons water
- Start with your prep work. Remove paper husks from the tomatillos, wash and chop them. Chop the onion. Split the chiles in half lengthwise, remove seeds and membrane, then chop. Add everything to a medium (4-5 quart) saucepan with the garlic, water, cumin, oregano, coriander, and salt. Bring to a boil then turn down to low. Cover and simmer with a lid on for approximately 20 minutes. Mix the arrowroot starch with 1- 2 tablespoons of water until smooth (called a slurry). Stir into the sauce in the last few minutes of simmering to thicken.
- Carefully pour hot salsa into a blender. Fix the lid on tightly and pulse briefly for a few seconds to puree. Use as is or cool and refrigerate or portion and freeze. Salsa will last 5 days in the refrigerator or several months in the freezer.