Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Tomatillo Salsa

I love growing tomatillos (also known as tomate verde - green tomato in Spanish, even though they're not actually tomatoes, though they are very green), a staple ingredient of Mexican cooking. They are a member of the Solanaceae family along with tomatoes, potatoes, aubergines & chilli's (right up there with the curcubits when it comes to awesome things worth having) and various plants that will kill you or give you the screaming ab-dabs. They are ridiculously easy to grow, and don't need any fussing over. They make smashing sauces & salsas, both raw & cooked. And don't go listening to thundering idiots telling you to substitute tomatillo for green tomato or gooseberries in recipes. They are talking shite. If you have space for a few pots, or a square meter or so of sunny garden, get some seeds (or ask me for some if you can't find any) & grow your own. They're beautiful to look at, with sunny yellow flowers, and will keep cropping right up to the first frosts. Anyway, enough with the enthusing, I'll do a vegetable blog post on how to grow them.

So here's a recipe for a preserved version of the classic Tomatillo salsa, traditionally a dish made with raw or boiled tomatillo, rejiggered into a cooked chutney. It also uses serrano peppers (another thing I had a go at growing this year. I can really recommend them, they're easygoing plants that don't mind a bit of neglect, and happily take care of themselves in a corner of the polytunnel or sunny spot in the garden), which are very hot, but the heat doesn't linger on the palate, giving you intense little bursts of heat. Fresh is best, put pickled works really well to. If you don't have serrano peppers, jalapeno is a good substitute, either fresh or pickled. Or you can use green chilli.

Tomatillo Salsa

900g tomatillo
450g onions, chopped
4 fresh serrano peppers
200g sugar
200ml white wine vinegar
juice of 1 lime
1 tsp salt
large handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped

Arrange the tomatillos on a baking tray & roast under a hot grill until the skin starts to blister. Put the vinegar & sugar in a pan & bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add the onions, roasted tomatillos & salt. Simmer until you have a thick, glossy mixture. Add the juice of a lime & the coriander (don't be shy with the coriander - the more the merrier!). Spoon into sterilised jars & try to resist temptation for a month.
Goes well with tostadas, chalupas, tortillas, tacos, nachos and anything that needs a dollop of something fresh & spicy!

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