It’s summer and most of the U.S. is swealtering under a blanket of record breaking heat. The last thing anyone wants to do is cook in a hot kitchen, right? Both my grandparents and my husband’s grandparents had outdoor canning kitchens and I think they had the right idea; get the heat out of the kitchen! This recipe is both flexible in cooking method and usage; cook it outside to beat the heat, and use it with multiple dishes.
First, while you can roast the vegetables in the oven, you can also cook them on an outside grill, keeping your kitchen cool. If you choose to cook outside, I recommend you still place the vegetables on a pan on the grill because the tomatillos will get very soft and you don’t want to lose any of their juice or any of the smaller pieces of onion and garlic.
Second, while the salsa can certainly be eaten right out the bowl with a big bag of salty, crispy corn chips, it’s equally delicious on grilled chicken tacos or even over tuna, grilled rare (both preparations we enjoyed).
If you’re not familiar with the tomatillo, even though it may look like a green tomato, it’s actually related to the cape gooseberry. It is a member of the nighshade family, so it’s also a distant cousin to the tomato. Tomatillos have a slightly sticky, papery husk which needs to be removed before cooking and range in size from about two to four ounces. Their season is May to October, but in California they are pretty much available year-round. One plant can yield up to a hundred tomatillos and my uncle swears by slicing and dehydrating them which he says makes them “sweet as candy.” Fresh, they’re slightly acidic, slightly sweet flavor pairs well with chicken, fish, and even pork.
2.5 lbs tomatillos
1 Anaheim chili (or small red bell pepper)
1 small red onion (about 8 oz)
2 cloves of garlic
oil for pan
1/2 bunch chopped cilantro
salt to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees or start outside grill and bring up to 350 if your grill has a temperature gauge. If not, put burners on high as if you were going to grill a steak, then right before putting in the vegetables, turn down to medium.
Clean the outer leaves off the tomatillos. Cut the outer skin off the onion and cut off the ends. Cut the onion in half and then each half into quarters.
Place the tomatillos, jalapeno, Anaheim chili, onion pieces and cloves of garlic on an oiled sheet pan. Roast the vegetables in the oven or on the grill (with the lid down) until soft, about 45 minutes. Remove and allow to cool.
Cut the end off of the jalapeno and then cut it in half, scraping out the seeds. Do the same with the Anaheim chili. Put the roasted tomatillos, peppers, onion and garlic into a food processor and “pulse” it on and off until pureed but still slightly chunky. Remove and place in a bowl. If you don’t have a food processor, you can chop it by hand or puree it in a blender but just be careful not to overdo it.
Squeeze in the juice of 1 lime, and add in about 1/2 a bunch of chopped cilantro. Add salt to taste.
Yield about 2.5 cups
It will keep in the refrigerator about 10 days in an airtight container.