Salsas are a food that lend themselves well to creative cooking. They are not an exact science, so what you put in them can change based on your personal tastes, what you have on hand, what you plan to pair it with, and more. In addition, if the idea of chopping lots of veggies doesn’t appeal to you, you can toss everything in a blender and go more the sauce route.
For me personally, my baseline is always plenty of garlic, some hot peppers, and usually lime juice, though lemon juice will work as well. For many, they also default to tomatoes as being a part of their salsa, which is fine, but tomatillos can be a great alternative.
Tomatillos look like green tomatoes in a paper like husk. When fresh, they have a firm texture with a hint of sweet and tart flavor to them. I think they have a bit of a citrusy flavor to them as well. They are a staple in Mexican cooking, especially in sauces like salsa verde.
On top of my base ingredients, there’s the tomatillos of course, and cilantro is a bit of a must have. I’ll add some onion, bell pepper if I have some on hand, and I really like to add either celery or cucumber for the contrast they bring to it. And even as simple as changing up the onion you use can make a difference, compare green onion to red onion or maybe some sweet Vidalia’s. And the peppers… I wish I had thought to use some hatch peppers to make a batch of this when they were in season this year. I’ll have to make a note for next season.
Aside as a straight up chip dip, I’ve used this to put on fish or chicken… both after it’s cooked or before baking.
The recipe as I have it below will make a decent amount, maybe 3 cups or so. Feel free to halve it if you don’t think you’ll go through that much… but I have a feeling that won’t really be a problem. If you try it out, let me know if you made any of your own modifications and how you liked it in the comments.
1/2 small onion
2 jalapeno or serrano peppers
4 cloves garlic
1-2 medium limes
1/4 tsp fine salt
- Optional Add-Ins/Substitutions
1/2 medium bell pepper, green or red
1 stalk celery
1/4 whole cucumber
- husk, core and coarsely chop tomatillo, put in medium bowl
- coarsely chop onion and hot peppers, removing seeds as desired and add to bowl
- mince or press garlic, into bowl with other ingredients
- remove about 1/4 cup of cilantro leaves, discarding the thicker stems, coarsely chop and add to bowl
- zest about half the peel of the lime into the bowl (if desired), squeeze the juice into the bowl. Add additional juice from second lime as desired.
- add salt. If using a coarse salt, increase to about 1/2 tsp.
- stir to combine and let rest in refrigerator 30-minutes to an hour before serving
- coarsely chop any of the optional add-ins. red bell pepper can add sweetness and color contrast. celery adds a nice crispness. cucumber brings an additional fresh flavor. be sure to scoop out and discard cucumber seeds before chopping.