September 17, 2013

Tomatillo & Blood Orange Salsa

I always look forward to the end of summer because it means I can finally get fresh tomatoes that actually have some flavour, and when I visit my parents' place with their garden full of tomatoes, I try to eat as many tomato sandwiches as I can!

I feel like I somehow missed most of tomato season this year though, since I was out of the country for the end of August and again in the beginning of September.

So while I haven't been able to try out any new tomato recipes this year, I do have a recipe to share featuring a relative of the tomato: tomatillos!

If you've ever had salsa verde made from tomatillos before, then you know that tomatillos may look similar to tomatoes (other than their bright green colour of course), but they actually taste pretty different - rather than being juicy and sweet inside, tomatillos are firm and more tart. Once cooked, however, they soften and take on a deeper flavour with more sweetness.

When I picked up a bag of freshly picked tomatillos from the market a few weeks ago, I knew I wanted to make some kind of a salsa with them, so I looked up some recipes for inspiration and got right to work peeling their skins off and starting the broiler for a warm, smoky salsa.

I also threw in a jalapeno for some heat, but little did I know it happened to be a deathly hot jalapeno, and I could barely eat a teaspoon of the salsa without setting my whole mouth on fire!

Luckily I still had a few tomatillos left after that first failed attempt, so I tried again a couple of days later, and ended up with a nicely balanced salsa with a mix of sweet, tangy, and spicy dimensions.

After broiling the tomatillos and only half of a jalapeno this time, I blended everything up into a chunky puree and added some shallots, garlic, cilantro, and lime juice to go along with the Mexican notes. And since I love adding fruit to my salsas, I also added some chopped blood orange for a bit of sweetness. You could use a regular orange instead, like this recipe that inspired me to add a citrus fruit, but I liked the sweeter blood orange because the salsa was already tangy.

While I still love traditional tomato-based salsas, I also like trying out new flavours and ingredients when I make my own salsa, so this tomatillo and blood orange combination was definitely a different and tasty new version!

Tomatillo & Blood Orange Salsa
Inspired by this recipe on Serious Eats

3-4 tomatillos, skins removed
1/2 a jalapeno, seeds removed (Note: my jalapeno was very spicy, so I used less than half. Use up to a whole one if yours is a mild jalapeno)
1 large clove garlic, peeled
1 small shallot (or half a large shallot), minced
2 tbsp cilantro
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tsp agave or other sweetener
1/4 tsp salt
1 blood orange

Preheat oven to broil.

Place tomatillos, jalapeno, and garlic on a foil-line baking sheet and broil for about 10 minutes, turning once or twice, until the everything is softened and browned (I left my tomatillos in for a couple minutes longer, 12-13 minutes). Remove from oven and transfer everything directly to a food processor. Process until everything is broken down (it’s okay if it’s still a bit chunky).

Meanwhile, soak the minced shallot in a small bowl filled with cold water (this will help remove some of the bite of the raw shallot).

Add the cilantro, lime juice, agave, and salt to the food processor and process to mix. Drain the shallot and add that to the bowl as well. Pulse briefly to mix. Transfer salsa to a bowl.

Peel the orange, or remove the skin with a knife (I used the knife method). Separate the segments, and cut into small pieces. Stir the diced orange into the salsa.

Serve warm, or let sit in the refrigerator for about an hour to chill.


  1. Don't you hate when you get those rogue super spicy jalapeƱos?! They seem to be more common in the late summer, so I wonder if it has something to do with the heat? I just recently discovered tomatillo salsa and now I can't get enough. I'm sure I'd love it with oranges added!



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