Salsa Verde, where have you been all of my life? Beto, my cousin Maureen’s sweet husband, introduced me to Salsa Verde just last year when he made us Green Chicken Enchiladas at their Houston home. Don’t get me wrong, the enchiladas were ah-may-zing, but it was the sweet, yet tangy notes of the Salsa Verde that made me swipe my finger on an empty plate to get every last drop. As they say, there’s no shame in my game (even if there should be)!
Beto was born and raised in Mexico and learned how to make a traditional salsa verde at his mother Anita’s knee. Everyone who knows Beto knows that he and his mother had a very special bond, and his mother’s love shines through whenever he makes her dishes. This recipe is my Paleo adaptation of Beto’s Salsa Verde–with all praise for anything about it that tastes good to Beto and his dear mother and all blame for messing with it to me!
The ingredients for my Paleo Salsa Verde are pretty simple: fresh tomatillos, jalapeño (or, for more heat, serrano) peppers, garlic, onion, cilantro, lime, and (optional) salt. Let’s start with the tomatillos! For this recipe, you’ll need about 20 tomatillos (approximately 3 1/2 pounds). Tomatillos are fruits and members of the nightshade family. Many grocers carry them in their non-refrigerated produce section, but I prefer to buy mine at local Mexican or Latin ethnic markets, where they are usually fresher and cheaper. Tomatillos are covered with a thin-papery husk that must be removed before eating. Place the tomatillos in a large colander and remove the husks–they are easy to remove with just your fingers. Reserve the removed husks for an upcoming fall wreath project on PrimalPraline. (Just kidding! This ain’t Martha Stewart’s blog. Throw those suckers away!) Once the tomatillos have been de-husked, rinse each tomatillo, gently rubbing with your fingers, to remove any sticky residue. Put the tomatillos aside to drain in the colander.
Next, it’s time to decide the “heat” level of your Paleo Salsa Verde. I am a heat sissy. I love the flavor of jalapeño peppers, but prefer very little heat. For my taste, I remove the stems, halve and seed two jalapeño peppers. If you prefer mild-to-medium heat, you could stick with the jalapeños and leave the seeds in. If you prefer more heat, swap out the jalapeño peppers for serrano peppers–again, seeding, for less heat, or leaving the seeds in for more heat. Add the drained tomatillos and peppers, along with three-four peeled cloves of garlic (do your tastebuds a favor and skip the jarred and tube stuff!), to a large pot and fill with enough water to cover the tomatillos. Over a med-to-high flame or setting on the stove top, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Beto’s directions are to simmer until tomatillos are tender. (Beto, close your eyes.) My lazy cheat is to simmer until the skin breaks on one tomatillo. Drain cooked tomatillos, jalapeño peppers and garlic into colander.
While the tomatillos are cooking, quickly juice one-half of a lime and peel and quarter one-half of a small onion. Add the lime juice and uncooked onion, along with 3-4 sprigs of cilantro, to a large bowl food processor or blender and puree. Once cooked, add the drained tomatillos, jalapeño peppers and garlic and, if using, one-half teaspoon of Himalayan pink salt to food processor bowl or blender and puree for 20-30 seconds until smooth. Taste. If too tart, don’t despair. Just add more raw onion (about a quarter of the remaining half at a time) and puree for 20-30 more seconds, tasting after each addition. The raw onion through a chemical process called magic coaxes out additional sweetness.
So what can you do with this delicious Paleo Salsa Verde? Well, for starters, stay tuned to Primal Praline for some upcoming posts that will feature this wonderful sauce. In the meantime, check out this list of 30 Ways to Use Salsa (including Salsa Verde) from Serious Eats. ¡Buen apetito!
- 20 tomatillos (about 3½ lbs.), husked and rinsed
- 2 jalapeño or serrano peppers, remove stem and halve (seeded for less heat or leave seeds in for more heat)
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
- ½ small onion, peeled and quartered
- 3-4 sprigs cilantro
- ½ Persian or Mexican lime, juiced
- ½ teaspoon pink Himalayan salt (optional)
- Remove husks from tomatillos.
- Rinse husked tomatillos thoroughly and drain.
- Rinse jalapeño peppers, remove stem and halve. (If less heat is desired, remove seeds.)
- Peel four cloves of garlic.
- Add prepped tomatillos, jalapeño or serrano peppers and garlic cloves to large pot and add enough water to cover the tomatillos.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.
- Simmer until tomatillos are tender (until the skin breaks on one tomatillo).
- Drain cooked tomatillos, jalapeño peppers and garlic into colander.
- In food processor with large bowl attached, add onion, cilantro and lime juice and puree.
- Add drained tomatillos, jalapeño peppers and garlic and, if using, salt to food processor bowl and puree for 20-30 seconds until smooth.
- Taste. If too tart, add more raw onion and puree for 20-30 more seconds.