Recently, my friend Margaret of A Way to Garden inquired about harvesting her first big bounty of tomatillos and turning them into salsa verde. If you grow your own tomatillos, late summer is when their papery husks start to plump up and split, signalling that they are ready for harvest. The fruit tends to ripen all at once (or very nearly), and when we spoke, I was just preparing to make up my own annual batch of sauce.
I generally keep my tomatillo sauce as plain as possible so that it can be expanded upon for a wider range of applications. Most years I roast the ingredients in the oven or cook them in a big pot on the stove top without oil and then add lemon juice so that they are safe for canning. This year, while Margaret sought my advice on how to prepare these delicious late summer fruits, I drew inspiration from her and decided to forgo canning, opting instead to freeze the sauce in Mason jars (Margaret is big into freezing in jars). The only freezer space I have available is the small hatch atop an unreliable, and barely functioning 80s era (maybe 90s) fridge. For that reason I typically resort to water bath canning and drying to meet most of my preservation needs. I save precious freezer space for small batches of herbs, seasonal fruit such as strawberries and cherries, and the odd tomato or other produce that I can’t be bothered to can.
I’ve been frantically preserving all manner of things these past few months as if The End Times are coming and so when it came time to deal with the tomatillos I just couldn’t conjure up the drive to fill up the canning pot and make it happen. With canning off the table I was free to make my salsa verde in the way I like it best: roasted in the oven with a little olive oil to help the sugars caramelize with just a hint of char.
Recipe: Oven Roasted Salsa Verde
This recipe made 3- pint-sized wide mouth Mason jars with about a half-pint to spare. We enjoyed a little of the surplus on eggs Huevos divorciados style (two corn tortillas, a fried egg on each with salsa verde on one side and salsa rojo on the other), and the rest was heaped on top of brown rice tortilla chips and devoured.
I recommend using Poblano peppers over bells because they are richly flavoured with just a hint of spice. Feel free to add in a few hot peppers if you like it piquante. Garlic are another good ingredient to add and can be thrown in to roast alongside the onions and peppers. Everything roasted!
- 2-4 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 lbs tomatillo, husk removed and washed
- 3 Poblano peppers
- 2 small onions, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves (optional)
- Sea salt to taste
Place the tomatillos in a pan and drizzle with a tablespoon or so of olive oil. Place the whole peppers and chopped onions into a separate pan and lightly coat with olive oil. Place both pans in the oven and roast for about 25-35 minutes. Shake the pans and turn over the peppers at about the halfway mark. The peppers are ready when their skins are slightly charred.
Set the pans aside to cool. I find that the pepper skins peel off easily, but if you have trouble you can always put them into a bag to let them sweat for a few minutes. Remove the pepper seeds and core.
Place the tomatillos, peeled and seeded peppers, and onions into a food processor and pulse a few times until the ingredients are lightly chopped with a few chunks remaining for texture.
Mix in the cilantro, if using, and salt to taste.
Pack into jars of any size, leaving a good inch of headroom to allow for heaving and thawing. This prevents breakage. Freeze.
When you’re ready to use, simply set the jar in a bowl and thaw on the kitchen countertop at room temperature.