Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Roasted Tomatillo Salsa Tell-All

True confessions of a tomatillo virgin.
I just lost my tomatillo virginity. In fact, I was so green, I didn’t know tomatillos were purple. I bet you're thinking, “You did the salsa once, and you’re already dishing this tomatillo tell-all? Who are you to tell me how to do a tomatillo?” Well, let’s put it this way. If there was a reality show called The Apprentice: Tomatillo Salsa Maker, I would have been hired—maybe even running my own empire by now. But back to my chaste beginnings.

I had always seen tomatillos at Latin markets and wanted to try them, but I was too timid. They were exotic and mysterious—from the other side of the produce aisle—and I felt naive and awkward. But when I happened upon these little ones, they were so cute, I couldn't help myself. So I took them back to my place and they said, "Do things to me like you've never done to any other salsa." Ooh. I liked it when tomatillos talked dirty to me. So I slipped into my apron and slowly slipped each one out of its husk (this seemed to go on for hours, and since there were so many, I was feeling kind of promiscuous). And when all that sultry purple skin was revealed, even the oven got turned on. So I roasted those bad boys along with some garlic and onion in olive oil. When we all cooled down, I put them in the food processor with a chile and cilantro. And after my deflowering came the devouring.

One bite, and I knew I wasn't a virgin anymore. I had never felt this way about tomatillo salsa before. With each mouthful, I screamed, "Tom! Oh Tom!" I had expected the tomatillos to be tart, but the caramelization from roasting them brought out their sweetness. It was a complex sweetness with great depth of flavor—not a cheap, easy one full of sweet nothings. This was the richest, most vibrant tomatillo salsa experience of my life. I was infatuated. I wanted it again. So I threw some in the freezer so I'll be able to relive my first time. I hope the second time is just as good.


1 ½ lbs tomatillos, husked

1 small onion, peeled and sliced

4 garlic cloves, whole

2 – 3 TBSP olive oil

1 roasted whole green Anaheim chile, skinned and seeded

½ cup cilantro, chopped

1/8 tsp salt (optional)

¼ lime (optional)

Preheat oven to 400º F. On a baking tray, roast tomatillos, onion and garlic in a few tablespoons of olive oil for 30 - 40 minutes or until they are soft and caramelized. Roast chile separately on the stovetop or at a higher temperature in the oven (or use a canned whole green chile).

After the roasted vegetables have cooled, put them, along with their juices in a food processor. Add the chile and cilantro. Pulse mixture until well combined but still chunky. Taste for seasonings, and add salt and lime to your liking.

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  1. I have to admit, I've never worked with tomatillos either! I'm definitely intrigued, your salsa sounds pretty fantastic.

  2. "And after my deflowering came the devouring" KILLing me. So funny. Sexy recipe. Love it.

  3. You it's never the same after your first. You'll always be pining away for Tom. At least your next suitor has the same who's gonna know? Only you. ;)

  4. You are so naughty. Did I tell you my mom told me to spank my tomato plants? Apparently, it's a "gardener's secret" to help them self-polinate.

    At my community garden, one of my friends grew some gorgeous dark purple (almost black) tomatillos.

  5. My tomatillos are usually green and not nearly so sultry!. I meant salty... GREG

  6. Your crush on "Tom" was quite the shocker this morning. Glad to hear you are getting so heated & happy over a pepper. I have never cooked with these beauties, but now I am convinced I must!

  7. Gosh- I've made plenty of tomatillo salsa in my day, but it was never this steamy. BTW, also I've never run across a purple one. Do tell.

  8. too funny! I cant help it , I smile in advance of reading your stuff; never saw purple tomatillos all these years in Tejas; must come from soemwhere else

  9. This reads like a soap opera script. Days of our Tomatillos. I've never seen purple tomatillos here in Houston. I'll have to keep my eyes peeled.