Sunday, August 21, 2011

Roasted Salsa Verde

I recently came across a basket of ripe tomatillos at the market.  I was intrigued.  The only place I had ever seen tomatillos was in the produce section of the grocery store and, or course, those were not local.  These, on the other hand, were grown nearby and were beautiful.  They were calling my name (well, maybe not literally, but I am sure that the produce fairy on my shoulder told me to buy them), and I knew exactly what should be done with them- salsa verde.  I was thinking of all the meals that I make using salsa verde including Chicken and Summer Vegetable Tostadas (recipe to be posted soon), and I was so excited at the idea of being able to make it myself.  I purchased every tomatillo in the basket which, sadly, only amounted to 3 pounds.  I was not deterred. So what if I would only have a few jars of salsa.  At least I could say I had made them. 

I got home with my little green treasures and started rummaging around my cookbook shelf for salsa verde recipes.  I noticed that in many of the recipes, the vegetables were roasted before being pureed, and I thought that would add an interesting flavor element to the finished salsa.  I combined the ingredients and methods from several cookbooks being careful not to change the overall acidity in the recipe, and what I came up with yielded about 3 pints of salsa verde.  

This version of salsa verde is spicy but not overly so.  If you want to increase the spiciness, use a hotter chile or leave the seeds in rather than increasing the amount of chiles as this may make the salsa unsafe for canning.  You can, however, decrease the amount of chile used for a milder version.  I suggest starting with a couple of the chiles and adding more to suit your tastes.  

The salsa begins with tomatillos, garlic, chiles, and onion which you place on a sheet pan and roast in the oven.  I must tell you that I was a little unorganized when making it and forgot to add the onion in this picture.  I did roast the onion along with the other veggies though.  

In addition, I got caught up in the moment (as so often happens to me) and forgot to take a picture of the finished roasted veggies.  Just visualize blackened, soft veggies that no longer hold their shape and are oozing juices all over the pan.  Got the image in your head?  Okay, good.  So you put them in a food processor or blender and puree them until they are relatively smooth.  You won't get a completely smooth puree because of all the blackened bits and seeds, but you don't want big chunks either. 

Pour the mixture back into your pot.  Now, it should look something like this. Notice the black bits which really add extra flavor to the salsa.  This is one main reason to make your own if you can get your hands on tomatillos.  The store-bought stuff just can't give you the smokey taste that roasting the veggies at home can provide. 

Taste your salsa and make sure it is seasoned to your liking and is spicy enough.  Remember, if you didn't add all the chiles from the start, you can puree the rest and add them now for more kick if needed. 

The salsa then gets ladled into hot jars and processed.  This recipe only makes 3 pints, but if you want to make more, you can easily double it.  I would have but I couldn't get enough tomatillos.  Darn that farmer for not growing more! 

Roasted Salsa Verde (adapted from Canning for a New Generation and So Easy to Preserve)
makes approximately 3 pint jars

3 pounds tomatillos, husks and stems removed
1 onion, chopped (I used a Vidalia but any white or yellow onion will do)
2 jalapeno peppers, seeds removed
2 serrano chiles, seeds removed
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup packed chopped cilantro
2/3 cup fresh lime juice
2 1/2 tsp kosher salt

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  Place tomatillos, onion, chiles, and garlic on a sheet pan.  Roast for 15-20 minutes until vegetables are blackened, limp, and oozing.  Place vegetables, pan juices, and cilantro in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.  Pour back into the pot and add lime juice and salt.  Adjust seasoning with more lime juice or salt to taste. 

Ladle salsa into hot, sterilized pint jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Remove air bubbles, adjust headpace, and wipe rims.  Top with sterlized lids and rings.  Process in a water bath canner for 15 minutes.  Leave jars in canner for 5 minutes after processing time is complete.  Remove to a towel and allow to stand for 24 hours.  Check seals, lable, and store.



  1. I love salsa verde, but I've never seen local tomatillos. I don't know if they grow well here or not! Your salsa verde looks very yummy!

  2. I imagine that they like it pretty warm to grow. I am looking forward to enjoying the few jars I was able to make.

  3. What would the self life be for the salsa after canning?

  4. The shelf life of the salsa is about a year. Longer than a year and it may still be safe to eat but will start losing quality (most notably changes in color).

  5. Lauren, I don't know where "here" is, but I live in Michigan and my tomatillos do really well. I just don't quite have the knack for when to harvest down yet. I always lose a bunch to the ground. They do take a lot of space, although I imagine that if I took the time to stake them I could save some space that way.

  6. I made this today with a few modifications (using what I had on hand -ground coriander instead of cilantro, one jalapeno and a half teaspoon of ground chipotle instead of four peppers) and it turned out great!

  7. Laura, I can't believe you can get tomatillos to do that well in Michigan. If they work there, surely I could get them to grow here in hot, steamy NC. I think I am going to have to grow some this summer! As for the salsa, I am so glad you tried it and like it. I am going to have to try it with your modifications next time I have tomatillos on hand.

  8. Oh definitely! They are so easy. I grew mine from seeds started indoors. You could probably start yours from seed outside with your long season. I just finished cleaning out the garden tonight and got 8 more pounds of tomatillos! Now I just have to figure out how to adjust the lime juice so I can make more salsa verde.

  9. I am so jealous! I will definitely be trying to grow tomatillos in the summer.

  10. Can you use lemon juice instead of lime juice?

  11. You could use lemon juice instead of lime. The flavor will be a little different, but the safety of the end product should not be affected.

  12. I live in colorado at 5280 feet elevation. How much time should I add to the processing to make it safe to can here? Also, could I leave out the onions, not much of fan, without affectind the acidiy? I do have a pressure canner if you think that would be a better idea. I have oodles and oodles of home grown tomatillos and this is by far the best recipe I have come across.

  13. Anonymous, at the elevation you indicated, you will need to process the pint jars for 20 minutes. You can leave out the onions without negatively affecting acidity. If I were you I would just use my boiling water canner for this rather than lugging out the pressure canner. I have to say I am completely envious of the home grown tomatillos. Hope you enjoy!

  14. we missed cleaning some fruit from summer 12 & have about 15 volunteers so salsa verde this year

  15. Just made this, and it was way too bitter with that much lime juice also too much salt. I also added some cumin and smoked paprika to it trying to tame the bitter sourness from the lime juice. If I make this again way way less lime and salt.

  16. I'm sorry to hear that this didn't work out for you. I have made this for years using this recipe, and it is never bitter, sour, or salty for us. Make sure you are using fresh lime juice and not bottled for this recipe, and measure everything (especially the vegetables) accurately to make sure you have the proper vegetable to acid ratio. Many recipes (including the one from National Center for Home Food Preservation) actually call for more lime juice than this for about the same amount of tomatillos and peppers (they call for 1 cup lime juice per 5 cups tomatillos).

  17. I live in Kentucky, have 6 growing in my garden and they are proliic, I started the seeds indoors and had no idea 6 would be too many, they are covered up and so big they are falling over, have some bugs eating them, but there are so many it doesn't matter, they still have many more blooms and its mid August,

  18. I live in Kentucky, have 6 growing in my garden and they are proliic, I started the seeds indoors and had no idea 6 would be too many, they are covered up and so big they are falling over, have some bugs eating them, but there are so many it doesn't matter, they still have many more blooms and its mid August,

    1. Lucky you! I would love to have your problem of too many tomatillos. Make salsa verde with them. You will not regret it. Also, freeze the rest raw or roast them and then freeze them. That way you can make more salsa later (or next year if they don't do as well then). Good luck!