SUMMER OF SALSA: TOMATILLO, CILANTRO AND AVOCADO SALSA

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We’re back in the final week of our Summer of Salsa escapade. In case you need to be filled in, Chris and I have been making a salsa every week to celebrate the glory days of summer, using the book Nueva Salsa, by Rafael Palomino and Arlen Gargagliano, as our guide.

In week 8, we decided to go more traditional with a Tomatillo, Cilantro, and Avocado salsa. Tomatillos are a green cousin of red tomatoes and a key ingredient in Mexican green sauce. Check out this link for an interesting history of both tomatillos and tomatoes in Aztec culture (yep tomatoes are a New World plant).

The only proper way to eat this salsa is with homemade tortilla chips, find quick instructions below.

HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED:

4 tomatillos

2 ripe Hass avocados, peeled, pitted and coarsely chopped

1 red onion, diced

2 poblano chiles

1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar

juice of 1/2 lime

1 tablespoon olive oil

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro

Corn tortillas

First, you’ve got to roast your tomatillos and poblano chiles.

FOR THE TOMATILLOS:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Husk and rinse the tomatillos. Remove the stems. Coat with olive oil. Place on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast 10 to 15 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Once the tomatillos have cooled a bit, cut them in quarters.

NOW FOR THE POBLANOS:

Again, this is the same roasting technique we used for bell peppers and jalapeños in other recipes.

Stick each chile on the end of a fork, turn on your (gas) stove and stand there rotating until it is nice and black on all sides. (To be honest, I don’t know how you would do this without a gas stove. The chiles need to be burned. Any suggestions? )

Then, place the chiles in your paper or plastic bag and close it. Let them cool for about 10 minutes, then pull out the stems and rub off the black skin. Cut the chiles in half and remove the seeds with a fork or knife.

The recipe only calls for 1 1/2 poblanos, so save the extra half for later. You can stuff some mozzarella cheese in it, then fry for a pseudo-chile relleno.

Dice the 1 1/2 chiles.

READY TO MIX:

In a large bowl, combine the tomatillos and avocados. Gently stir in the red onion, chiles, vinegar, lime juice, oil, salt and pepper. Let sit for about 20 minutes. Then stir in the cilantro and serve.

To make fresh tortilla chips

Heat a generous amount of corn oil in a large pan (about 4 tablespoons). Grab a stack of tortillas (about 6 or 7) and cut into sixths (like a pizza). Place the tortilla triangles in the pan in a single layer. Fry until that side gets crispy, then turn them over. The chips should be a golden brown when finished. Use a spatula to fish the chips out and place on a plate covered with a paper towel to soak up the extra oil. Salt. Continue in batches until all the chips are fried. Add additional oil as necessary.

This was a tasty salsa to enjoy with a beer. Chris and I made micheladas, which depending on where you order them, is like a beer bloody mary or, as I prefer, a beer served with lime juice and salt on the rim.

Eat this salsa right away, it didn’t seem to hold up too well in the fridge!

Sadly, with the cool breezes, leaves falling off the trees (already?!) and pumpkin spice coffee reappearing at Donut Delight, it is time to call the summer of salsa quits. But stick around. On a chilly night we might rustle up enough tropical-vacation-itch to take on one last recipe we were eyeballing, a Tequila Watermelon Pineapple salsa. How’s that for summery? ¡Hasta el proximo verano!

-Magdalene Perez

Magdalene Perez