Monday, May 4, 2009

It's Cinco de Mayo - make salsa verde!

Oh yeah! Cinco de Mayo is one of my favorite sort-of holidays. I mean, I would like it better if work was canceled, but I can't really complain about a day that results in copious amounts of Mexican food. In honor of Cinco de Mayo, I'm posting a tried-and-true recipe for homemade salsa verde. Mike and I have made this so many times, we haven't referred to printed instructions in years.

First, however, I wanted to offer a few tips for any other hypoglycemics reading this blog. Enjoy Cinco de Mayo, but avoid flour tortillas - the corn tortillas will be kinder to your blood sugar. Watch out for the Mexican rice, too! Beans would be better. And, last but not least, stick with a good Mexican beer (Corona, Tecate, Dos Equis, Negra Modela...yes, I know my beers!), and STEP AWAY from the margaritas! The mix is mostly sugar water, and hard liquor really concentrates the sugar in the alcohol. I have a theory that a hangover comes from low blood sugar plus dehydration - don't help me prove it. :)

OK - back to the salsa. Where I'm from in Alabama, everyone is quite familiar with green tomatoes, but tomatillos...not so much. One of the key differences is that tomatillos are ripe, even though they are green and small. Tomatillos should be easy to find in the produce section of most major grocery store chains. I usually pick through them, peeling back the papery husks just enough to make sure the tomatillo inside is bright green with no soft spots. Mike stands patiently by, holding the produce bag, knowing that the tomatillo selection process will be worth the wait.


1 1/5 lbs. tomatillos
1/2 fresh jalapeno
1/2 avocado
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
2 Tbsps. minced garlic
2 Tbsps. olive oil
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 Tbsp. ground coriander
salt and pepper to taste
additional cumin and coriander to taste

1. Remove and discard the husks from the tomatillos. Wash the tomatillos, dry them, then cut them into halves or quarters (depending on the size of the tomatillo). Place half of the tomatillo pieces in a blender or food processor with the half of a jalapeno pepper (seeds removed). Process until enough room is made in the blender/food processor for the rest of the tomatillos, avocado half, cilantro, and garlic. Blend everything together until is has a salsa consistency, basically smooth and not too chunky. It will be a gorgeous green color, like the epitome of spring.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the cumin and coriander to the oil, and let it heat for 30 seconds. Lean in close and get a whiff! Pour in the salsa, and stir to distribute the spices throughout.

3. Cook the salsa for approximately 15 minutes over low heat, stirring often. Start with a teaspoon each of salt and pepper, and add more, if desired, as you stir and taste. Add more cumin and coriander, a half teaspoon at a time, until you are satisfied with the flavor. I probably use two more teaspoons of each at this point, but I never measure (sorry!). I just keep shaking the spices in, little by little, until it tastes bright and fresh, but not sour.

Homemade salsa verde is delicious hot on nachos, chilaquiles, or carne asada, and is also great as a dip. This recipe will make enough salsa for a party, and it keeps well in the fridge for at least a week.

Tomatillo on Foodista

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