Now that the edges of the trees are tinged with color, I feel the push to put things by for the chilly season when they’ll deliver the taste of the sun into my breezy old house. This time it’s a traditional tomatillo salsa.
Tomatillos are pictured here in stages of undress. Sometimes called a Mexican green tomato, they are round, green with a papery lantern-shaped husk. Their unique flavor has a slightly herbal lemony kick.
This recipe makes about 6 cups, although it can easily be scaled down. The salsa can be frozen or canned, although I prefer the former. Just ladle it into ice cube trays, then crack the frozen cubes
into a container for later use. That way you can use as little or much as you like.
1/4 cup olive oil
8 garlic cloves, peeled
2 thick slices of a large sweet onion
5 lb fresh tomatillos, husked and rinsed
5 serrano chili peppers, stemmed and seeded, or 2 jalapeños, stemmed and not seeded
Salt, preferably kosher
1 cup water
2 teaspoons sugar, optional
1 small bunch cilantro
1/4 cup lime juice, or to taste, optional
1-Add the oil to a 4 quart pot.
2-Add the garlic, onion and some of the tomatillos to a food processor. Blend until smooth. Pour on top of the oil, then blend the rest of the tomatillos and the serrenos or jalapeños, in batches if needed, until smooth. (If you’re scared of making this too hot, you can blend some of the chilies then add the rest if you want the extra kick.)
3-Add the blended ingredients to the pot, along with 1 tablespoon salt and 1 cup water. Simmer for 10 minutes to blend the flavors and thicken slightly. Taste and season with extra salt and the sugar, needed.
4-Chop the cilantro in the flood processor and stir into the salsa. (You can use most of the stems.)
5-Add lime, if you wish. (If you are freezing, add lime later, or as an accompaniment in wedges)
Accompany meat and fish or as a citrusy foil for a cheesy quesadilla. Simmer it in a skillet to welcome cracked eggs on a winter morning, covering to finish them. Savor with chips and an old movie. I’m thinking Bette Davis.
Where are they from?
Laura Meister at Farm Girl Farm. On my way down to the Manhattan, I drove up a dirt driveway to one of Laura’s CSA fields. A rush of silence greeted me as I tramped by rows of kale, their curly leaves reaching high above the weedy organic soil. The well-diversified field is a far cry from the mono-crop miles of industrial farms in Idaho. There, I drove by endless lines of naked beige soil, too lifeless to be called soil really, each running into the flat horizon between rows of all-too-perfect poisoned potato plants. In Laura’s fields, sections of summer crops that have gone by abut ready to pick veggies — order in what to the untrained eye looks like chaos. She approached me, looking robust and well tanned, carrying a box filled of dew-licked tomatillos. And, although the classic Berkshire hills set a glorious tone behind her, this isn’t romance, but a humane alternative to the status quo.