Guest Blog: Salsa Verde with Liz Novak

October 15, 2010

I have been a crazy woman with the school work combo, so i’ve asked one of my favorite ladies to share her ballerest Salsa Verde recipe with you.

There are a lot of reasons that I love salsa verde. It’s smooth texture and light color play to my vanity. I love that tomatillos come in their own dainty packaging.


Photo by Ms. E. Elizabeth

There are a lot of reasons that I love Ms. E. Elizabeth. She has duck fluff hair. She makes brilliant jewelry that is charming and irreverent. I love people who truly love where they live, and Liz loves Providence. In high school we had a fake electroclash band. Her appreciation of history, small dogs, and eye wear are astounding. Really, Liz and I have the best talks about things. I think that her work, and my food reflect our shared attitude of appreciating good design, but rejecting the neo-consumerist side of American craft/food with its buy-to-DIY mentality. Her post on the function of jewelry is really bright, and a good example of this notion.  Check her out. Anyway, without further ado, here’s here story, recipe, and photos. Take her grilled cheese pairing suggestion (summer +fall)!

Honestly, you can just ignore everything I just said and oogle her most epic of juicers below, if you want.


Liz writes, “My favorite salsa verde recipe dates back to sophomore year of high school. A small taco shop had opened in the very back of what, just a year previous, was my favorite vintage clothing store. It was run by a very, very Christian couple from Texas who served up kind of flavorless flour tacos filled with equally flavorless pinto beans. But the salsa- oh man- the salsa. It was like nothing I had eaten before simply because, yeah, a teenager in late 90s, suburban New Jersey had no business knowing what a tomatillo was. But friend, it was love.

Flash forward to 3 years in my 20s when I was busied by slinging tacos in the best damn taco shop in Rhode Island. This is my ode to those old days.

Notes: This recipe is fairly easy and quick so feel free to throw a record on the turntable and get rocking. You’ll be able to flip it over after you’ve chopped up all your ingredients. I like to defer to some solid, spirited rock. Electric Light Orchestra and King Khan and the Shrines are classic cooking favorites in our house but I’ve been known to get down with Sleep’s “Holy Mountain”, too. Oh, yeah.

You will need:

–       At least 10 tomatillos. Fresh are best but if all you can get are the canned variety, so be it.

–       A variety of hot peppers. I use a mix of jalapenos, poblanos, red chilies, and these little black hot peppers that I grow in my garden.

–       4 or 5 cloves of garlic.

–       An onion. Red, yellow, or green are all fair choices.

–       2 limes at room temperature.

–       A small bunch of fresh cilantro.

–       Sea salt

All of my measurements are approximates so feel free to alter the ingredient ratios to meet you wants or needs. More peppers will result in a hotter salsa, more tomatillos> more mellow.

If your tomatillos are fresh, start by removing those fine, papery skins and giving them a good rinse. Don’t freak that the skin of the fruit will be a bit sticky. Just roll with it.


Set a small pot of water on the stove to boil. Once a rolling boil is reached, add tomatillos and continue boiling for about 10 minutes. You will want to wait until the toms have lost their cheery, bright green color and turn more of an olive drab. Also, they will reach a consistency that I refer to as “eyeball-like”. When you get to this point, remove your toms from the heat and drain. Gentle. They are in a delicate state.

While that boiling pot does its thing, chop up your other ingredients. I find that a food processor is most helpful for this step but if you are really in it to win it, or are really hard-core, or maybe just a Luddite, you can give every thing a nice, medium dice by hand. I like to do garlic, onion, cilantro, and salt at the same time. Dump that mixture into a medium-sized bowl and repeat the process with the hot peppers. Keep in mind that the seeds are what give peppers their real oomph so take a moment to choose how many are going to end up in your salsa then discard the rest in the compost bin. Also, dude, don’t forget to wash your hands- especially if you plan on touching your face or going to the bathroom within the next day. Those scorching oils will linger.

Here is where it picks up speed! Add your squishy, warm tomatillos to the pepper and friends along with the juice from your 2 limes and a generous dash of salt. If your limes are on the dry side, consider adding a shot of good-old-honest water to mix. Rev up your immersion blender and then blend the hell out of everything in your path. Seriously. Blend the sweet heck out of that salsa. Once you think that you have done it enough, run a fork around the bowl and hunk for chunks. Zero in on them. Destroy them. Take no prisoners. We shall not falter. We shall not fail.

Once you are confident in your dominance over the contents of your mixing bowl, find a big, clean jar or a Tupperware or, if you are one of those foodie blog perfectionists, a vintage, Pyrex refrigerator dish and ladle your salsa into it. Allow to chill at least over night, but ideally for 24 hours. Your salsa will have probably congealed into a gelatinous glob, so break it up with a fork or a chop stick (Look! Asian fusion!) and add a little more water if it is really dense. You can add more salt or cilantro if that’s how you roll, but I guarantee that this kind of wordy yet laissez fair method is pretty much perfection. Ah!

My favorite way to enjoy this is as a compliment to a really swell, hardy grilled cheese, either in- or on the side.



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