Monday, July 19, 2010

Tomatillo Avocado Salsa

What's not to love about salsa?  This time of the year it is fresh, cool and spicy.  My favorite salsa is a green salsa or salsa made from tomatillos.  I really love this classic Mexican salsa made from raw tomatillas.  This salsa works well as a dip, a sauce for simple grilled chicken or fish and is especially perfect on tacos or chalupas. I really, really love it in my chanchito bowl from Chile.
Everytime I go to the grocery store in my neck of the woods, the check out person holds one of the tomatillas up and asks me "what is this?" And I do mean every time. It amazes me that the tomatillo is so unfamiliar to many.  Just in case, this is what a tomatilla looks like.
It is the tomate verde or green tomato common in Mexico and is considered a staple in the Mexican kitchen.  They make delicious tangy salsas and sauces, cooked or uncooked.

Here is a favorite recipe for tomatilla avocado salsa. There are other variations.  This is a classic recipe and is super easy to make and because of the high acidity in the tomatillas the avocados don't turn brown quickly.  So you don''t have to eat it all at once!  You can have it on your eggs in the morning, on your taco or burger for lunch and as a sauce for you grilled fish or chicken for dinner.  I love versatility.
First, find some tomatillas.  My grocer just started carrying decent ones.  I used to go to the Mexican grocer.  I love doing that, but I also like one stop shopping.  About a half a pound will do which is approximately 4 medium tomatillas. (Note:  I doubled the recipe which accounts for the extra tomatillas than what is needed for this recipe.  I really love this salsa and I am not the only one in my house.) Tomatillos should be very firm and green with a papery husk on them.
Wash and remove the husk.  They sometimes are slightly sticky.  That's OK, that is part of there persona. Quarter them and put them into a food processor along with 1/2 to 2/3 cup of fresh cilantro.  Rough chop the cilantro if you like but I just toss in a handful.  Toss in a couple of roughly chopped serranos.  I leave the seeds in because I like the heat that is on the veins of the pepper.  So if you are concerned about heat or spice from the peppers, either reduce the peppers to one or you can scrape out the seeds and veins and retain the flavor of the pepper.  This is very much your call.
Side Note:  These are two frozen peppers.  Seems nutty, I know, but let me explain.   Sometimes when I go to the grocery store, they just won't have them or they will and they are old and shriveled.  I grow peppers every year because I am determined to  have hot peppers.   So to ensure that I get the type of pepper I want and the heat I want, I either grow them or buy them at a farmers market and freeze them.  I like them fresh but I have never had a problem with the taste or heat by storing my summer crop in the freezer.  I always have a habanero for my chili, jalapenos with the proper amount of heat and those hard to find serranos.  It is getting better out there but it is nice to have a supply in your own freezer that is consistent to fall back on.  It works best in recipes that call for chopping or mincing the peppers but does not work as well for dishes like stuffed pepper recipes such as rellenos. The peppers loose their firmness after being in the freezer.

OK back to the recipe. Add 1/4 cup of water and give the food processor several good pulses until you are happy with the consistency.  Cut up an avocado like this while it is still in the skin.
Scrape out the avocado with a spoon into the food processor and pulse it a time or two.  Be careful and don't process it too much so the avocado still is chunky.  Alternatively, you can dice them small and add them after processing but I am a home cook and this step makes it super easy, capisce.  This is how mine looked.
Now for the hard part.  Take a 1/2 of a small white onion, and yes it really needs to be a white onion or one of those very sweet onions that come out in the summer, and dice it into 1/4 inch dice.  You should end up with 1/3 to 1/2 cup diced onions.  Put the diced onions into a colander and rinse them in cold water.  This gets rid of that sulfur taste that onions are so famous for and add them to the salsa.  They add a nice crunch to the salsa.  Season with 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon of salt to taste.  I usually add a little fresh ground pepper.
There you have it fresh, tangy salsa verde with avocado.  Now all you need is a chip and you are ready to dip.

Tomatillo Avocado Salsa

1/2 lb. of tomatillos or 4 medium tomatillos, quartered
1/2 cup of cilantro
2 serranos or 1 jalapeno, roughly chopped
1/4 cup of water
1 ripe avocado
1/2 of a medium sized white onion, diced 1/4 inch
1/2 teaspoon of salt to taste

Place tomatillos, cilantro,  pepper, 1/4 cup water in a food processor.  Pulse until it is a slightly chunky puree.  Cube an avocado and place into the processor and pulse a second or two.  Make sure to keep the avocado in good sized chunks.  Place the diced onion in a colander and give it a good rinse in cold water to rid the onion of the sulfur flavor and then add it to the salsa and stir.  Season with salt and stir.


Print Recipe

Nutritional Tidbits:  Tomatillos are low in fat, low in calories and low in salt.  They are a good source for iron, magnesium, phosphorous, copper, Vitamins C and K, Niacin, Potassium,  manganese and dietary fiber.  Avocados are a nutritient dense food and have fat soluble vitamins such as K and E, have several B vitamins, fiber and monounsaturated fats.


  1. What a lovely and interesting post! Thanks.

  2. I saw your post on Tasty Kitchen. Your pics are beautiful! I bet this would be so delicious drizzled over some nice fresh fish or shrimp, mmmm. : )

  3. Thanks Katie and Stacy. I make this recipe often and never tire of the different ways to use it. It is definitely a salsa that would not overpower shrimp or fish. We have used it with fish tacos many times.

  4. Yum:) Looks delicious! I have to try that next time I buy some avocados!

  5. Hey Laura!
    I finally got around to posting this recipe on my blog. Thanks for letting me share it! :)


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