Monday, August 16, 2010

Tasty Tomatillo Salsa

Every week I go to the greenmarket and pick out something I have never made before.  This week’s pick-tomatillos!  These little guys are so cute!  Tomatillos are about the size of a golf ball, covered in a greenish husk and inside have the appearance of an unripe, green tomato.  My farmer seemed so excited about them that I couldn’t resist.  I also grabbed one of his jalapenos and decided I would make a delicious tomatillo salsa. Tomatillos are the base of most green sauces in Mexican cooking and can be cooked in a dish produce a mild flavor or can be blended raw to produce a more boldly flavored salsa.  I’m feeling bold, so I’m going with the salsa!

What makes this bite better?
Whenever you can top off a dish with a fresh, flavorful, healthy salsa you replace more fattening option such as cheese, sour cream, butter or extra salt!

A wise warning before you start- I have cut many a jalapeno and have never met one as aggressive as the one I used in this recipe. Jalapenos contain capsaicin oil- that is what gives the addictive, warm burning sensation to its dishes.  However, it can also have the same effect on your skin and if you’re even more unlucky- your eyes. 

Now, if you have sensitive skin, you should wear gloves when cutting jalapenos.  Since jalapenos normally don’t bother my skin I did not wear gloves (mistake #1).  I cut my jalapeno, cleaned out the inside and the seeds and diced one or two slices to throw into the salsa.  Then, I immediately washed my hands following jalapeno protocol.  However, some of the oils must have remained somewhere on my hands, my knife, my cutting board, the counter; I don't know where but it was there somewhere (mistake #2).  I will reiterate how “aggressive” this little pepper was.  After a few minutes, I began to feel a burning sensation on my face. I must have touched my face-even if I did so unconsciously (mistake #3).  My tomatillo salsa, at this point complete, stared up from the jar mocking me.  

After a few face washes and a bit more time for the pepper to prove its point, the sensation went away.  Looking back it could have been much worse. But hey, some of us have to learn the hard way!

Lessons learned
#1 Wear gloves when cutting jalapenos
#2 Wash your hands, gloves and everything that came in contact with the pepper
#3 Never underestimate a jalapeno, even if you have encountered many harmless ones before

Tomatillo Salsa
Makes about 16oz.
Time: 10 minutes or less

Tomatillos- about one dozen
1 Jalapeno- amount based on spice preference
1 quarter of a small yellow onion 
3 pieces of Garlic

To prep the tomatillos remove the outer husk and wash them thoroughly.  They have a sticky feel when you remove the husk, so be sure to wash them well!  Once the tomatillos are prepped, quarter them and add to the food processor.  Cut and peel the garlic and onion and add to the food processor as well.  The jalapeno will control the heat so add as much or as little as you want.  Jalapenos hold most of their heat in the inside membrane and seeds so to make a more mild salsa only use the outer part of the pepper.  You can get a nice kick by adding one or two slivers of the pepper. Blend the ingredients together until a salsa forms.  To control the heat and flavor, taste as you go!

Serving Suggestions
Eat alone as a salsa with tortilla chips.  Serve over grilled fish, shrimp, chicken or steak.  Top off a delicious taco or salad or blend with an avocado to make a yummy guacamole!

Place salsa in a jar and store for up to one week in the refrigerator. 

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