Thick Roasted-Tomatillo Sauce

The best American name for this vegetable would probably be “Mexican green tomato”, but they actually taste nothing like regular tomatoes, In fact, the tomatillo is not a tomato at all. The tomatillo has a tart, lemony flavor that is enhance when cooked (especially roasted) and is an excellent base for salsas. While salsa (salsa verde) is the most popular way to enjoy tomatillo, they can be used in other ways. Tomatillos contain high amounts of vitamin A&C. Tomatillos are our #2 sales item!

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1 pound tomatillos, husks removed and rinsed well
2 tsp. coriander seed
2 tsp. cumin seed
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 serrano chile
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 tsp. salt


Heat the broiler until very hot, then line a broiling pan with some aluminum foil for easy clean-up. Place a rack over the foil-lined pan.

Make sure the tomatillos are dry, then place them on the rack. Lightly coat the tomatillos with some nonstick vegetable spray and broil them very close to the heat until the surfaces of the tomatillos become a tan color and char slightly. Turn the tomatillos over and coat this side with some of the nonstick spray, then broil until tan and slightly charred. (The oil coating helps the tomatillos char faster.) At this point the tomatillos should be very soft and some juices will have accumulated in the bottom of the pan. Pour the juices and the tomatillos into a blender.

Warm a small skillet over medium heat and add the coriander seed and toast, shaking the pan frequently, until aromatic, about 30-60 seconds. Pour the seeds into a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Toast the cumin seeds in the same skillet until just aromatic, about 20-30 seconds. (Be very careful not to burn the seeds or they will taste bitter; if that happens, throw them out and start again.) Pour the cumin seeds into the container with the coriander seeds and grind the two until powdery.

In the same hot, dry skillet, toast the garlic cloves over medium-low heat. You want the cloves to soften and take on a tan color. Turn the cloves after theyve cooked on each side, and as the cloves soften and toast, break them up slightly, crushing them with the back of a spoon to create more surface area for toasting. Continue to toast until the cloves are soft and most of the surfaces have some color.

Remove the stem from the serrano chile, then remove the seeds and membranes to keep the heat mild, or add the seeds and membranes if you like it fiery. Chop the serrano into small bits.

Blend the tomatillos with the serrano chile, toasted spices, garlic, onion and salt until a thick sauce forms. Serve the tomatillo salsa at room temperature or slightly warm as a bed for grilled, broiled or roasted chicken, pork, fish, or steak. This sauce keeps for 2-3 days in the refrigerator, but will start to separate after the first day. Bring to room temperature or heat slightly before serving and stir well if separated. (If the sauce is too thick, heating it will cook down the natural thickeners making it spoonable again.)

Recipe by Kate Heyhoe.