Salsa Verde is my favorite salsa, and it is so easy to make at home. Unlike traditional red salsa, salsa verde is tangy, fresh, and can be a little tart. If you’re still buying jarred salsa verde, stop. Immediately.
Salsa Verde is so easy to make at home, and now that farmers’ markets have fresh tomatillos, now is the perfect time to make this zero-point salsa verde.
Never work with tomatillos before?
Tomatillos are related to tomatoes, but they are not tomatoes. Covered in a thin paper husk, tomatillos are tart and they have a slightly sticky, waxy coating.
When choosing tomatillos, you are looking for firm, bright green (under the husk), and the husk itself should be green and close in size to the fruit; if the husk is loose and yellowed, pass on that one. If you were to cut into a tomatillo expecting a green tomato, you’re in for a surprise.
Salsa Verde > Other Salsas
I love salsa verde. It may have something to do with my first experience with salsa verde which was on our honeymoon in Costa Rica. Each morning I ate the same thing–sliced mango, freshly made tortillas (literally a lady was just making them to order), sunny side up eggs, and salsa verde.
It was so bright and tangy and salsa verde and eggs is still a breakfast combination that brings me back to those sunny mornings living care free and freshly married.
When we got home, I realized I never wrote down what the “green sauce” was called and tried contacting the hotel. My simple sheltered suburban self never heard of salsa verde before. Fact, jarred salsa verde is not the same.
Besides the nostalgia factor, I like salsa verde because it requires almost no slicing since it all comes together in a blender or food processor. Unlike other salsas made in a blender, salsa verde actually thickens as it sits. I’m sure it has something to do with pectin, but I’m not a scientist.
Grill, roast, or boil?
Fun fact, I read about 40 different salsa verde recipes and made about a dozen before finding a balance I liked. Many recipes call for boiling most of the ingredients or roasting them; these are all great options, but grilling is more convenient, quicker, and gives the salsa a smoky charred quality that the others did not.
Only when grilling the ingredients did I get that honeymoon nostalgia quality. All variations I tried were delicious, but this one is special. Also, tomatillos are only around my parts during the summer. Almost all meals are grilled when possible.
Make it your own
Salsa recipes are 100% based on personal preference. They all have the same ingredients, but the quantities can vary depending on preference. Luckily, this recipe is easily adaptable and can be modified based on heat, tartness, saltiness, and general love or hate of cilantro for your own preference.
I love cilantro, so if you think it tastes like soap, we can’t be friends. Sorry, but I don’t make the rules.
The heat will not come from the poblano, but the jalapeno which is still a mild pepper in my opinion. If you like your salsa hotter, swap the jalapeno for one or two serrano peppers.
I keep my salsa milder so my kids will eat it. The tartness will come from the lime and tomatillos. Add half the lime before going for more. Some people are sensitive to the already tart nature of the tomatillos so the lime could be overpowering.
Cilantro? Yeah, pack that sucker with cilantro so anybody who hates cilantro stays away so you can eat it all.
Grilling the Fruit and Vegetables
This salsa verde recipe calls for grilling the tomatillos, lime, poblano pepper, and jalapeno pepper. Grilling these will give this recipe a smokiness that is not possible with the boiling or roasting method, and I think it really sets this apart from other salsa verde recipes.
The trick is to know how to grill these. For starters, get the grill nice and hot before adding the ingredients. While the grill is heating up, rinse the tomatillos and slice them in half.
Once the grill is not, add the limes and tomatillos cut side down and throw the peppers on. You’ll be looking for grill lines on the limes, bubbling on the tomatillos, and fully charred peppers.
- The limes take no time at all–4 to 5 minutes. They’ll get slightly softer and charred. This adds a smokiness to the lime juice that is subtle, but delicious.
- The tomatillos will take about 10-15 minutes. Grill cut side down for about 5 minutes, flip, and then cook until you see the tomatillos bubbling like the video below. The tomatillos will be soft and the skin will be loose. The flavor is unreal.
- The peppers will take 10-15 minutes as well, depending on how high the heat is. The goal is to get the skin blackened all around on the poblano. Once you remove the poblano, you’ll see the poblano will get soft and deflate. Using a paper towel, you can remove the skin easily. As you can see in the picture, I did not fully blacken the jalapeno because I planned on throwing in the whole jalapeno including the charred skin. This is optional, but delicious and the salsa verde will be heightened by this step.
Blend it all together
Once all the grilled ingredients are done, you’re just going to throw it all in a blender or food processor. If you are working with a 4 cup food processor, start with the tomatillos so they can break down and make room for everything else.
If you are customizing the salsa, remember to taste as you go and only do half the jalapeno, lime, or salt until it is just right.
- 1 lb tomatillos
- 1 poblano pepper add serranos for spicier salsa
- 1 jalapeno
- 1/2 onion medium
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 lime
- 1/4 cup cilantro (packed)
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- pepper to taste
- 1/2 tsp cumin optional for extra smokiness
- Slice tomatillos and lime in half. Grill fruit cut side down–5 minutes for the lime, 10-15 for the tomatillos. Char peppers until blackened.
- Removed poblano pepper skin using a paper towel.
- Add all ingredients into a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth (or desired consistency).
- Store in air tight container in the refrigerator. Salsa will thicken as it sits.