Why this photo? Because happy vegetables make delicious salsa.
And also because the neighbors didn’t seem alarmed enough yet.
Anybody plant one little tomatillo plant and end up with bushels of fruit? No? How about you CSA subscribers? Did you open your box this week only to be buried under 3 feet of little green paper lanterns? No?
Okay, fine. Well, any misfits out there like salsa verde? Is that a good enough reason for you to read this, then?
I have a compulsive need for approval. I’m working on it. In the meantime you’ll just have to placate me. I mean, if that’s okay with you.
A few weeks ago, The Boy and I attended the Chicago Beer Society’s annual picnic so he could show his support for his newest beer-related membership, eat and drink to excess, and have an excuse to make multiple kinds of potato salad (Kalamata Olive, and Hot Pepper Ranch). What with a chili cookoff, a rib cookoff, an “other meats” cookoff (not as suspicious as it sounds, promise. Okay, slightly suspicious. Shut up, that pate was amaaaaaazing. But it wasn’t, interestingly enough, “cooked off.” Ooh, totally suspicious now.), a salsa competition, and 16 self-serve kegs of local craft brew, I don’t think I need to tell you how completely awesomesauce it was.
What I do need to tell you is that 16 self-serve kegs of local craft brew is a GREAT way to sell t-shirts that say “Chicago Beer Society” to people who aren’t even members of the Chicago Beer Society. I won’t tell you whom.
I don’t want to name names.
Wouldn’t want to embarrass anyone.
Anyhoo, as I stood in the salsa line and surveyed my options, a revelation came over me. Actually, what the hell, let’s call it an epiphany. A life-changing, zesty, sweat-inducing epiphany. I scanned crocks and bowls of various shapes and sizes, some containing chunky concoctions, some smooth, some with mango, some with cilantro, some that looked suspiciously like Pace Picante–
–friends, clearly the word of the day is “suspicious;” just puttin’ that out there. Didn’t think we could ignore the truth any longer–
–and some that were so hot they were practically melting the Tupperware they came in. But I wasn’t having any of it, folks. ‘Cause most of them were red! (Commie connotations aside.)
Now don’t get me wrong. I like me a red salsa. But oh. Oh. OH. That green stuff is where my heart is.
That green stuff is where my heart is. I must say that at least 80 times a day.
Enough time passed, and eventually 2 or 3 green salsas made it to the table. And they were decent. Good, even. Not suspicious at all. But I longed for the day when I could make my own salsa verde. When some beautiful tomatillos would show up on MY doorstep, and then I could make my OWN salsa, and take pictures of MY salsa, and give you a recipe for said SALSA, and then I’d show EVERYBODY!
That’s right, I’ll show EVERYBODY.
All of them. Whoever they are.
But there weren’t any decent tomatillos to be found. None in a convenient two-block radius, at least. Hey, I never said I was willing to go the extra mile for this salsa. Just the extra two blocks. So I commenced waiting…
More suspicious Lurking…
Until finally I was able to nab some fresh, locally grown, organic tomatillos. Pretty convenient, actually–showed up in a kit with my CSA delivery, complete with a recipe that I didn’t end up using, since I already had one that was, oddly, pretty close to that one.
Anyhow. Tomatillos. Nom nom nom. Actually, more like nom, ow, nom, eww, nom, spit. ‘Cause tomatillos are hard little buggers that take a little softening up to bring out their delicious side. A little cajoling. A little persuading. A little…something special.
Alright, so you dump in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes, ‘kay? Goooosh!
Let’s talk salsa.
We had this on steak last night.
Steak Before <cue sad trumpet noise that signals disappointment>:
Steak After <cue triumphant trumpeting>:
Whoah, yeah! That steak is one prime suspect! The crime? Severe deliciousness!
It’s also great with chips, on burritos or enchiladas verdes (ooh, idea! idea!), stirred into guacamole, or, oh hellz bellz, on eggs in the morning. If I know The Boy, and I think I do, he’s going to come home from work (aka, that place that takes him away from me and causes me to cry and then actually get some work done and then cry some more) and stir this green heaven into vegetable juice for a spicy Bloody Mary. He’s a genius, that there The Boy.
And not even a bit suspicious.
The Suspicious Salsa Verde to End All Suspicious Salsa Verdes (It’s the word of the day, guys, I kinda hafta take this all the way)
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
10 to 12 tomatillos, suspicious, of varying sizes, peeled
2 teeny suspicious-looking onions, peeled
1 small bunch cilantro leaves (suspicious)
3 cloves garlic (I suspect them…of making this salsa awesome! Oh ho ho!)
1/2 jalapeno, with seeds (this makes a solid medium heat salsa; use more or less, or leave out the seeds, depending on your preferences); the jalapeno isn’t suspicious. It’s just flat out diabolical.
1/2 T. lime juice (not so suspicious)
salt to taste (I used about 1 tsp.) (suspicions abound!)
freshly ground black pepper (I used about 1/4 tsp.) (SUSPICIOUS!)
Gather your ingredients. Hey, everybody know what time it is?
Wait, wait, wait…that’s not right.
Yes, I do realize there are only 10 tomatillos on my clock. Tomatillo time knows no numeric restrictions. It knows no rules. It only knows what the heart wants. And the heart wants what the heart wants. And the heart wants salsa verde.
“Hey, guys! Can we join?!”
“Should we let the outsiders join our tomatillo party?”
“They’re clearly not tomatillos.”
“Come on, Frank, don’t be such a jerk. They probably have booze.”
“We don’t need their booze. And we don’t need them! WE DON’T NEED ANYBODY!”
Bring a pot of water to boil. Tong the tomatillos (yes, I did just use tong as a verb), into the water and let ’em cook until they’re just a bit softened–it took about 6 minutes for me. Tong them (there I go again!) into a bowl and allow to cool slightly.
Throw all the ingredients except the salt and pepper into a food processor and give it a good whir. Now, some people like to leave their salsa verde chunky–I prefer mine to be a bit runnier than that, with a coarse, jelly-like texture.
Process your salsa accordingly. Now throw in a bit of salt and pepper to taste and pulse the processor two or three times to incorporate it really well.
You can enjoy this right away, or let it sit in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight before using. Personally, I’m a fan of letting all those flavors sit and meld together. But if you can’t wait, don’t beat yourself up about it. I’ve been there, my misfits. Oh, have I ever been there.