Nothing will transform your kitchen more than having go-to recipes for the two pillars of Mexican cuisine: red sauce and green sauce.
Salsa Verde Recipe
Most supermarkets these days have a basket of tomatillos tucked away in the produce section.
If you’re new to tomatillos, pull open the husk at the grocery store and buy the ones that are taut and greenish on the inside. If they are pale or mushy they are past their prime. (What is a Tomatillo?)
Note: If you're in an area where fresh tomatillos are hard to come by, you can always use canned tomatillos. Yes, it'll be a slight step down in quality, but the results are still far superior than using storebought salsa. And don't worry about roasting tomatillos out of the can, it doesn't have the same effect as roasting fresh tomatillos.
OK, got 4 tomatillos handy? Pull the husks off, give them a good rinse, and cut out the stems.
And now we'll add:
1 serrano pepper, de-stemmed and cut in half
½ small white onion (yellow is OK)
1 clove garlic, peeled
10 sprigs cilantro
Roasting the tomatillos will lower the acidity and concentrate the flavors, so we'll put them in the oven at 400F. (Out latest post shows other roasting methods you can use to make this Salsa.)
In about 10-15 minutes they'll start to turn army green, that means they're done:
Into the blender they go along with ½ onion, garlic, cilantro (using the stems in Mexico is the norm), and only 1/2 of the serrano pepper. You could also use a molcajete to make the salsa.
Why only half of the serrano? Because only you know your preferred heat level. So I always recommend adding heat incrementally the first few times you make this sauce. (How hot are serrano peppers?)
Pulse blend and taste for heat level. Not enough? Keep adding serrano until it tastes right to you.
(Note: if you are sensitive to spicy foods then you can start by adding 1/4 of the serrano and taste-testing.)
And that's it! You just made the second most popular sauce in the history of Mexican cooking in less than 20 minutes.
Having this sauce on standby in your kitchen is a gamechanger.
Sure, it does well next to a bowl of chips. But it really shines when used generously in breakfast burritos, or gooped on top of burritos, or smothering pork carnitas.
One last note: you'll typically find serranos next to jalapenos in the produce section, but if your local markets don't carry them you can substitute jalapenos for the serranos and you'll get a similar result.
Tomatillo-Serrano Sauce (Salsa Verde) Step-by-Step
- 4-5 medium-sized tomatillos
- 1 jalapeno pepper (or serrano)
- 1/2 small white onion (yellow is OK)
- 1 garlic clove
- 10-12 sprigs cilantro
- salt to taste
- Pull the husks off the tomatillos and give them a good rinse. Cut the stems out of the tomatillos.
- Roast the tomatillos in a 400F oven for 10-20 minutes or until they start to turn army green in color.
- Add the tomatillos to a blender along with 1/2 small onion, 1 peeled garlic clove, 10-12 sprigs cilantro (using the upper stems is fine), and 1/4 of the serrano pepper. (Be sure to give the cilantro and serrano a good rinse.)
- Pulse blend and taste for heat level. If you want more spice add another quarter of serrano. Keep adding serrano until it tastes "right" to you.
- Salt to taste (I typically do not add much salt).
- Serve immediately and store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.
Add an avocado to this recipe and you've got a delicious Avocado Salsa Verde.
You can also use a chipotle in adobo to get a delicious Tomatillo Chipotle Salsa.
And here is a link to making a molcajete version of this awesome green salsa.