Tomatillos and Salsa Verde


We didn’t grow any tomatillos on the farm this year. They are a minor niche crop that don’t sell especially well and frankly we couldn’t spare the space or time. Fortunately, Adam, grew several plants in his home garden (how does he have time for a home garden?!?) and he was generous enough to drop off a big bag of perfect fruit the other day.

I love tomatillos. I love their fresh, tart, almost lemony flavor. I love their bright green color. And I love how well they combine with other foods, especially with foods that are just a bit fatty like chips or enchiladas.¬†Tomatillos are the base of all the traditional green salsas and sauces found in mexican and tex-mex cooking. Every tomatillo recipe I’ve ever seen is variation of the very simple salsa recipe presented here. If you’re hankering for sauce over salsa, just take this salsa recipe, double it, saut√© it for a few minutes in lard or oil, thin it with stock (animal or veggie) and reduce it back to sauce consistency (until it coats the back of a spoon). It’s a very traditional preparation. Recently I’ve been taking a less traditional path and making a green sauce by simply blending the salsa verde with avocado. It produces a rich, velvety but still tangly sauce I like using on enchiladas or black bean cakes (and it’s much healthier than the traditional, avoiding both the oil and stock).


In the garden, tomatillos cover a lot of ground. They grow in bushes 3-4 feet tall and often as big around. Adam planted his on a three foot by three foot grid. Tomatillos are always indeterminate, meaning they will continue to produce until the first frost shuts them down. They are also very self-incompatible. Self-incompatible species are unable to self pollinate. Without other tomatillo plants very near they set very little fruit. Therefore rather than planting them in rows like we do with most things, when we grow tomatillos we plant them in grids with four plants in a six-foot by six-foot square plot. Tomatillos are also very late, so get transplants in early, right after the last frost. Most varieties need 100+ days to produce fruit. Around here, if we can get them in in mid-May, we’ll be eating salsa by September.


Salsa Verde

A fantastic and very traditional, tangy green salsa and sauce base


  • 1/2 lb fresh tomatillos, husked and washed
  • 2-5 fresh hot chilies, stemmed (I use jalapeno because that’s what I grow).
  • 6 sprigs fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 of a small white onion, chopped
  • salt


Boil the tomatillos in salted water (just enough to cover), for until slightly tender, about 10 minutes. Drain the tomatillos and puree with the jalapenos, onion and cilantro in a food processeser or blender. Blend until the salsa is smooth but retains some body. Adjust the heat by adjusting the amount of jalapeno added. include the seeds for even more heat. Thin the salsa with water to desire consistency and adjust salt to taste.

1 comment to Tomatillos and Salsa Verde

  • Anna

    Just made this with Serrano peppers (yipes!) and some roasted garlic cloves. Most definitely a winner.

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