I live in a city, in a pretty small house with an especially small kitchen. When I fantasize about the next house I’ll live in, a big kitchen is key, of course, but the thing I romanticize the most (well, other than a pool) is the space for a big chest freezer. Dreaming of garage…
I live in a city, in a pretty small house with an especially small kitchen. When I fantasize about the next house I’ll live in, a big kitchen is key, of course, but the thing I romanticize the most (well, other than a pool) is the space for a big chest freezer. Dreaming of garage space is how I fall asleep most nights. There is nothing more satisfying to me than putting away bits and bobs of ingredients or prepared foods that I can pull out months down the road to create something entirely new. I’m the person who freezes 2 tablespoons of leftover anything delicious—beer, chimichurri, apple butter. It’s not so much a waste-not-want-not attitude, though, I mean, waste not want not, but more about how happy future-me will be when she finds something to put a lackluster dinner over the top. It always gets used, one way or another. I also am very much a person who gets cranky about cooking because I have to, rather than cooking because I want to. I love to cook, but I don’t always want to, so having a freezer stash simplifies my life on days when I need a break. Okay, so now that you know about my favorite hobby, I’ll get to the point, which is that this week I made a big batch of my family’s most-used salsa. It’s a cooked salsa verde, made with tomatillos, poblanos, jalapenos, red onion, garlic, cilantro, and lime juice. It’s very hands off, requiring a short roast in the oven (grill works, too) and a trip to the blender. We use it for everything, from tacos to enchiladas, an easy sauce for grilled fish, a flavoring base for soup, or, obviously, as a snack. It’s as spicy as you want it to be and very versatile. I like to freeze this salsa in pretty small portions, roughly 1/2 cup at a time, because I find that you don’t need much more than that for lots of uses, and it’s easy to grab a few portions if I need to. Like most things of a saucy-nature, I freeze my salsa in a silicone muffin tin, like this one, and then pop them out and keep them in a zip top bag. This batch makes about 7 cups, but can be halved or doubled to suit your needs. Use these quantities as a baseline, but play around until you love it. Garlic, cilantro, and lime are particularly adjustable to taste. Here’s what you’ll need:
- I used to cook the ingredients under the broiler until they were pretty well charred. I’ve grown not to love the bitterness of the charred vegetables in this salsa, so now I do a bit of a lighter roast. But if a bit of char is your thing, go for it. The grill will produce a similar flavor.
- Mix this salsa with something creamy, like sour cream or mashed avocado, for a rich sauce. I will often use the salsa inside enchiladas, and then use a creamy version on top.
- Use this same formula for a red tomato salsa. Substitute equal part tomatoes for the tomatillos.
- Check out this uncooked tomatillo salsa for a simple and bright fresh flavor.
- 3 1/2 lb tomatillos, husks removed, rinsed – this might be painfully obvious to everyone but me, but I learned the hard way awhile ago that tomatillo husks should not go in the food processor.
- 2 poblano peppers, halved and seeded
- 2 jalapeños, halved and seeded – use as many of these as you like, and keep the seeds if you like the spice
- 1 red onion, peeled and roughly cut into chunks -- white or yellow onion would be fine here, too
- 6 cloves garlic, separated but not peeled
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro
- Juice from 1 lime, plus more as needed
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 425°F.
- On a baking sheet, place all of the tomatillos in one layer. On a second baking sheet, arrange the poblanos and jalapenos, cut side down. Gently press on the peppers until they are slightly flattened. Scatter the onions and garlic around the peppers.
- Roast the tomatillos and the other vegetables until they are softened and browned, about 30 minutes (the tomatillos may only be browned on the bottom. That's okay). If you prefer a slightly more charred flavor, broil the ingredients for about 5 more minutes, until they are lightly charred.
- Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Peel the garlic cloves and transfer all of the cooked ingredients, plus the cilantro and lime juice, to a blender, working in batches, if needed.
- Blend until smooth. Taste and season with salt or more lime juice, if needed.
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