The Season for Salsa

2016-02-26 16.28.01 smNothing beats a good salsa. And there are limitless variations on the theme—tomato or tomatillo, cooked or raw, spicy or mild, cilantro or none…

If I’m using tomato, I prefer a raw salsa, but if I’m making salsa verde—based on tomatillos—I like it cooked.

I have a love/hate relationship with tomatillos. On the one hand, I quite enjoy them in salsa verde. On the other hand, we don’t tend to like them in any other form, so we’ve never been able to eat all the tomatillos produced by even one plant, and the rotting fruits in the garden are truly disgusting.

But salsa verde is a lovely alternative to ketchup on burgers and fries, is fantastic in burritos, and makes a great chip dip. I’ve seen many variations on salsa verde, but this is what I do.


500 g (1 lb) tomatillos, husked and rinsed

½ cup water

1 fresh chilli pepper or a pinch of cayenne

2 red sweet peppers, charred

1 onion

1 clove garlic

½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

2 Tbsp cream or half and half (optional)

salt to taste


To char the sweet peppers, spear a whole pepper on a fork and hold it over the flame of a gas burner, turning regularly, until the skin blackens. Drop the charred pepper into a bowl and cover with a plate for a few minutes to let the skin steam and loosen Peel off the blackened skin before using. Roughly chop tomatillos, chilli, sweet peppers, onion, and garlic. Place all ingredients except the cilantro and cream in a saucepan and cook 15-20 minutes until the vegetables are soft and the liquid is reduced by about a third.

Blend until smooth (I use my immersion blender). Stir in the cilantro and optional cream, and adjust the salt. Serve hot or chilled.

This sauce freezes well—I freeze it in small quantities and pull it out as we want it.