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Green with Salsa

Working on a video to have out by next week. In it, we discuss how simple recipes often have the best flavors and are great at teaching the home cook how to balance the myriad of ingredients into a cohesive unit. This is a great test of learning to develop your palate. When you taste test this salsa after it is blended, think to yourself, do I get hints and flavors of the all the ingredients I used? If not, find out where it is out of balance. Could be it needs a little more salt. Could need a little hit of sweetness (I had to use a little honey in the one for today). The point being, balance of flavors is what you are seeking. Tartness, hint of sweetness, earthy tones, herbaceous notes, maybe a little heat (or a lot if that is your thing), and supporting unique flavors of red onion and garlic all coming together. Sometimes it will take several times to adjust the seasoning. Do not believe everything you see on TV where they taste and then only add a little salt at the end. Starting out, you might have to add or balance out flavors by adding more of one or more ingredients. For example, today, I had to add a little honey, salt, and cumin as the cumin was hiding, and the tartness was too strong. aOnce it is close, but you feel like it is still a little bit away from being a cohesive dish, then that is where your salt will come in to play. Salt will brighten and bring flavors together, but you should not taste salt itself.

A quick recipe that will have you never buying jarred salsa again is Salsa Verde. Looking at the Salsa Verde recipe, think about what flavors jump out at you. Sweet (tomatillos have a sweet tartness reminiscent of apples), acidic, heat (if using jalapenos), pungent (garlic & red onion), earthy (chipotle or regular chili powder), and herbaceous (cilantro).

Like most recipes, there are a lot of disparate and competing flavors going on here. Why? Because in the end, they balance each other out beautifully. Recipes that only build on one main flavor at the expense of others, is typically boring to our palates.

A quick example was the cupcake craze that gripped us about 15 years ago. Medium cupcakes topped with 2-4 inches of frosting looked pretty, but one bite later and most people had enough. Initially, we are attracted to food by our eyes so everyone had to buy and try a decadent cupcake. Cupcake stores exploded everywhere. Within a year, most were gone.

I have yet to find a store salsa even close to achieving the balance you bring about making it at home. Even most salsas at Mexican restaurants are boring and unbalanced in flavors.

Did you make this recipe? Let us know on Facebook or Instagram

Salsa Verde *

28 oz Tomatillos (canned), drained, but reserve liquid

Half red onion, roughly chopped

1 Garlic clove

1 Jalapeno or Serrano, optional

½ to 1 bunch Cilantro, can use leaves and stems

Lime Juice (start with half a lime)

Chipotle Chili Powder (optional)



White pepper, optional

Honey, optional (may be needed to balance sweetness, tartness/acidity, and/or heat. We rarely use it in this recipe)

Blend together with stick blender, food processor, or blender. Include some or all of the drained tomatillo liquid to thin our salsa since the pectin in the blended tomatillos will thicken the salsa over time.

* Note about the recipe. We typically do not like to give amounts for each ingredient since it will depend on many factors. The numbers given are not set in stone. When you blend the ingredients together and test taste it, do not be alarmed if the flavors are all over the place or unbalanced. Rarely do we make something that does not have to be tweaked. If one aspect is too strong, think about adding a little of its competing flavor. Too acidic, maybe a little bit of honey or sugar and vice versa (also, salt and acidity work against each other to some degree so it might just need a little salt to balance it out). Use of salt is only used to bring flavors to the forefront and balance. You should not taste the salt by the end. If you use too much salt, the easiest way to fix is to add more tomatillos or use more of the tomatillo canned liquid.

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