Thursday, May 26, 2011

Tomatillo Salsa

As promised, here is a salsa to try alongside the corn cakes I made last night (see post for Arepas).  I have to start out by saying what an absolute delight this recipe is to make.  The ingredients and preparation filled my kitchen with the sounds and smells of a South American kitchen, and transported me out of Manhattan for a short while.

  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 jalapeno peppers
  • 1 pound tomatillos
  • 2 tablespoons chopped sweet onion (such as Vidalia)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1. Place the cumin seeds in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat and cook for 2 minutes, until toasted - what a wonderfully fragrant smell!  Transfer to a spice grinder and process until finely ground; set aside.  This was actually the first time I used my spice grinder (a present from last Christmas) and I was so pleased with the results.

2. Cut 1/4 inch off the stems ends of the jalapenos, and discard the stem ends.  Using a paring knife, remove the seeds and membranes from the jalapenos, being sure to leave the jalapenos intact - this step isn't nearly as hard as it sounds, if you use a gentle turning and scooping motion.

3. Remove the husks from the tomatillos.  Return the cast-iron skillet to medium heat, and add the jalapenos and tomatillos; cook for 15 minutes, turning frequently - by the end, the jalapenos and tomatillos will be speckled with black marks.

4. Transfer the jalapenos and tomatillos to a food processor and process until smooth.  Add the sweet onion and pulse about 5 times to blend.  Spoon the tomatillo mixture into a bowl.  Stir in the toasted cumin, cilantro, lime juice, and salt.

If you haven't made arepas at home, fret not.  This salsa is equally delicious with store-bought tortilla chips, or as part of a black bean burrito, quesadilla, or soft taco supper. I found the salsa particularly enjoyable topping a quesadilla made with the rice vegan cheddar slices from Galaxy Foods.

Nutrition Info:
8 servings (1/4 cup), Calories 22 

Tasting Notes:
A little on the watery side, but wonderful fresh flavor nonetheless, particularly from the fresh-squeezed lime juice and the warm toasty notes of the cumin.  There was the exact right amount of heat from the jalapenos for my taste, and nice green flavor from the tomatillos. 


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