Tomatillo Sauce (Salsa) Recipe

May 9, 2012 4 Comments

Tomatillo Sauce

Tomatillo Salsa

When I think of salsa, I think of fresh tomato salsa with chunks of red tomato and bell peppers. Salsa is Spanish for “sauce” so there are many different types of salsa to enjoy. Recently I showed you how I prepared a Chipotle salsa and now I want to teach you how to make tomatillo salsa as taught to me by my Mexican friend Paula.

What Are Tomatillos?

tomatillo

Sometimes called green tomatoes or husk tomatoes, tomatillos are a fruit about the size of a ping-pong ball with an inedible, paper-like husk surrounding them. When ripe, they can be yellow, purple or even red but most often you are going to find the green ones.

When buying tomatillos, look for husks that are intact and light brown. If the husk is dry and shriveled, the fruit may not be in very good condition. Make sure the tomatillo is firm and free of blemishes. If you can’t find them fresh, you may be able to find them canned in your local market but they are not the same.

Tomatillos have a tart flavor and are a staple in Mexican cooking. Paula says this tomatillo salsa is popular in Mexico because tomatillos are so available and inexpensive. She told me they were so plentiful in the town she grew up in, you could just walk down the road and find them growing wild.

Although the first domesticated tomato, the ones we are familiar with, may have first been grown by the Aztecs of Central Mexico, red tomatoes are often too expensive for many Mexicans to use for their salsas.  Therefore, tomatillos are a good substitute and very popular to use in sauces (salsas).

Don’t confuse a tomatillo with the green tomato made famous in the 1991 film, Fried Green Tomatoes. They are not the same. Although they are in the same family, nightshade, they are a different genus.

Sauce or Salsa

Yes, I know they mean the same thing but how you are going to use this sauce determines how much water you use. Paula uses tomatillo sauce like most of us would use a sauce, for additional flavor for chicken, pork and fish dishes. She may use it inside a fajita or to cook enchiladas in.

What I am saying is she pours it on, over or into whatever she is serving it with and therefore makes it very liquid. If you want to use this as a more traditional salsa to serve with chips, use half the amount of water for a thicker result.

How Hot Do You Want It?

This gets really confusing because the first time we made this, Paula used 6 jalapeños. The next time we used only 2 and it was even spicier. When asked, she said it depends on the jalapeños’s age. Older jalapeño peppers are hotter than young ones. See my post on jalapeños peppers. So for this recipe I’m going to say 2 to 6 jalapeños depending on how hot you like it and how hot the jalapeños are.

Tomatillo tomatoes

Tomatillo Salsa

cilantro

Mexican tomato salsa

Tomatillo Sauce (Salsa) Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: depends

Tomatillo Sauce (Salsa) Recipe

Ingredients

1-pound fresh tomatillos - husks removed

2 - 6 jalapeno peppers (see above)

2 cloves garlic

1 - 2 cups of water - depending on how thick you like it

3 sprigs fresh cilantro

How To Prepare At Home

Add the tomatillos, jalapenos, garlic cloves and water to a saucepan.

Bring to a boil then lower heat just a bit and continue to simmer for 30 minutes.

Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth.

Add the cilantro and puree again.

That's it. Couldn't be easier!

Last modified on Mon 14 July 2014 10:01 am

Comments (4)

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  1. Kathy says:

    Joined Weight Watchers so I’m eating more veggies & fruits. I love mexican food so I can’t wait to try this on all kinds of things. I think I may try it on a poached egg this weekend. Will let you know :)

  2. Diane Black says:

    I also love to mix sour cream into tomatillo sauce along with some lime juice… great as a sauce or dip for meats and lots of other things, as well as just for nachos, etc.
    (Also use regular salsa + bit of sour cream to perk up various things.)

    Thanks for the recipe, and also the info on how to tell mild from hot jalapenos! Helpful.

  3. Spooscott says:

    Thx for the info re the peppers. Q: Can this be made with red tomatoes? I don’t recall ever seeing tomatillos in my country. Is the salsa tasty w/out added seasonings? Do u know a good substitute 4 cilantro? Thx.

    Hi Spooscott, there are many salsa recipes out their where you can use red tomatoes but this isn’t one of them. I would make a fresh salsa with the red tomatoes but sure you can puree everything to make a sauce. You might want to substitute parsley for the cilantro but the results will be completely different but still good. – RG

  4. Sheila Jones says:

    Can you bottle this sauce and use it like a green tabasco?

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