Roasted Tomatillo & Jalapeño Salsa

Oh yea, babee…it’s summer. And it’s not quite “hot” here. Temperatures are slow to rise, making for chilly mornings and gorgeous afternoons. Basically, it’s perfect. I get up early and get any house-warming/cooking out of the way and then I’m done for the day.

And summer? Beckons forth the canning jars. Not that I know all that much about canning, but I sure do take advantage of canning jars to make extra large batches of homemade BBQ sauce or teriyaki sauce. Having them on hand helps create quick meals – when I’m hungry and/or don’t feel like cooking too much.

Today I made Roasted Tomatillo & Jalapeño Salsa and I have some roasted red peppers for my Romescu (yes, RomescU) sauce for dinner.

When I first moved to Chicago to complete my student-teaching from my small college in Iowa (Go, Coe!), I learned – unexpectedly – about how different grocery stores can be based on their neighborhood. I had popped in to a market to pick up some things for a student’s family for Thanksgiving. Instead of easily finding what I anticipated (or the layout… I hate that about stores…. wandering like a dimwit looking for something), I found huge piles of collard greens. I mean HUGE piles of collard greens. Like 3 huge tables/centers of greens. OH! I was so excited and a bit overwhelmed. My American-Irish/Minnesota background didn’t make for a ton of recipes for greens, but my friends gave me some that were (are) to die for.

The next stop at the same chain (but different location) yielded a slew of different kinds of peppers and tomatoes. It was there I found huge piles of tomatillos. (toe-mah-tea-yos) These leafy-wrapped firm green tomatoes were completely new to me. Mind you, i am not a big tomato consumer (it’s the texture), so venturing in to Tomato-Land was never on my list of things to do. But I’m always game for a food adventure, so I bought a pound of them based on the advice given to me by an older Mexican woman who hooted with laughter when she saw me pick up the tomatillos looking puzzled. She gave me great advice on how to pick them out (you want them to be firm and the leaves should not be discolored). (See a picture of a tomatillo here.)

However, she failed to mention that the tomatillos can be sticky once you peel the leaves off to roast them. YUCK. Thinking I had purchased a spoiled pound of tomatillos, we (my roommate and I) ended up roasting only two tomatillos out of the 10 that I had bought. (DUR). We used the roasted tomatillos and their juices to add to a pasta. Not too bad, but not the best use either.

And at my favorite Mexican restaurant – Mamacita’s on Halsted – I found a new love and use for them. Mamacita’s makes the BEST tomatillo-garlic-cilantro salsa ever. Seriously. Sadly, they don’t disclose their recipe. Even when I begged them before we moved to the Pacific Northwest. LOL

So, I made up my own salsa recipe. If you have never made salsa before, you will be SHOCKED at how easy it is. Give it a try! With a few ingredients, you can have the best salsa for chicken or fish or chips or pasta….. well, you get the picture.

Here’s what I made today:

Roasted Tomatillo & Jalapeño Salsa (*see note below)
1 pound tomatillos (firm)
2 jalapeños (medium) for a mild salsa* or 3-4 for a warmer salsa
4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1/3 cup water
salt, to taste
sugar, to taste (if desired! optional)
(*You can also add tabasco to up the spiciness if you’d like)


  1. Peel and wash your tomatillos. Pat dry.
  2. Seed and remove the stem from the jalapeños. Cut them in half.
  3. On a foil lined tray (with edges to catch the juices), place your tomatillos under the broiler for 4-6 minutes or until they begin to char a bit.
  4. Remove the tomatillos from the broiler and flip them over. Add the jalapeño slices to the tray. Return the jalapeño and tomatillos to the broiler for 4-6 minutes until slightly blackened.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  6. Once cool pour the tomatillos, jalapeños and accumulated juices into your food processor or blender. Add the onion, cilantro and garlic. Process until even. (This is a thin, NOT chunky, salsa.)
  7. Taste. Add salt/sugar to taste.
  • If you want it spicier, add some tabasco or more jalapeño.

Well – I’m off. The red peppers are done roasting and the Romescu sauce is calling my name.
Happy Gluten-Free Summer Days!

*NOTE: My sister and our family friend, Sue, as experts at Tomatillo Salsa.  My sis says that you can also quickly poach the tomatillos in boiling water for 3-4 minutes or so and then add them to the blender with a bit of the poaching water instead of roasting them.  The other tip they offer sounds delicous to me too – they suggest adding an avocado (medium, ripe) to the blend.  It makes the salsa creamier and it holds on to the chips better.  Lastly, they also use serrano peppers in lieu of my jalapeños.   (Told you they were the experts.) Maybe some of these ideas will be help too!)


  1. I just love tomatillos! Ooh, and tomatillo salsa, mmmmm :)

  2. Shirley says:

    I have to admit I am a tomatillo virgin. LOL Will definitely have to try some soon. Can’t say that I have seen them anywhere around here though. (I remember seeing them in Florida when I visited a friend last year.)

  3. oh you make me wish for summer here in The Cities. i had tomatillos in the garden the summer before last (they were my “challenge plant”), and i had SO MUCH DELICIOUS SALSA!!!

    we got to 90 yesterday, so the summer’s coming!!!


  4. I’m just having a ball cruising around your blog. Great recipes, good writing, fun sense of humor. All good things! Oh, I almost forgot — wonderful photo of the salsa. I’ll take this recipe as well. :-) Thanks!
    In good health,

  5. This is looks easy enough to make and good!:-)


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