Tomatillo Chile Salsa Recipe

Strange husks and sticky fruit make some of the best salsa on the planet.
Tomatillo Salsa

Tomatillo Salsa

If you have tomatillos, onion, chiles and a food processor, you can make an awesome salsa.

Photo by: Image courtesy of Básico

Image courtesy of Básico

If you have tomatillos, onion, chiles and a food processor, you can make an awesome salsa.

Everyone knows what to do with a tomato, but the tomatillo—their smaller, greener, sweeter cousins—hold a bit more mystery inside those paper-thin husks. 

The Aztecs started plucking these little green guys off vines around 800 B.C. Today, they're both a common weed and culinary cornerstone in Mexico. 

Like tomatoes, tomatillos can start inside, love the sun and grow roots on their stems. Unlike tomatoes, they're not as heavy, aren't prone to pest problems or disease and also aren't self-pollinating, so they have to be planted in pairs.

Don't let those husks be a barrier between you and some of the best salsa on the planet. Just remove them—they're ripe when the husks start to split—and wash off the sticky fruit inside. 

"I grew up with this recipe for green tomato chile salsa in Texas and I love it for its simplicity and versatility. You can add it to any dish and it brings a new depth of flavor," says Bryan Lewis, owner of Básico restaurant in North Charleston, South Carolina.

According to Lewis, this recipe uses 'Verde Puebla', a traditional heirloom variety of tomatillos that are easy to grow, yield lots of fruit and have a long harvest season. 

Green Tomatillo Chile Salsa

Courtesy of Bryan Lewis, owner of Básico, North Charleston, South Carolina

Yield: 4-6 appetizer servings

  • 6 medium tomatillos, husked and rinsed
  • 2 serrano chiles, stemmed
  • Vegetable oil, as needed
  • ¼ cup cilantro
  • ¼ cup white onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup water
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a heavy skillet to high heat. Add vegetable oil and Serrano chiles with salt and pepper and cook until charred. 

In a food processor, blend all ingredients until smooth.

Chill and serve. The salsa is best served on the same day, but it can be kept covered tightly in the refrigerator for 3 days.

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