The Last Taste of Summer from the Garden

As the fall weather takes over here in Michigan.  We’re enjoying the last of the tomatoes from the garden.  With a very hot and dry summer and the sudden arrival  of fall most the tomatoes never ripened on the vine.  Those that did ripen became Pico de Gallo, Panzanella, roasted in the oven with olive oil and garlic for a pasta sauce, or sliced thickly topped with sliced red onion, crispy bacon, and dressed with homemade chunky Blue Cheese Dressing.

So what do you do with green tomatoes besides frying them?  The answer was to make a fresh Salsa Verde that I could freeze and enjoy through out the winter.  The taste of green tomatoes are similar to a tomatillo with its tart crisp citrus flavor and texture.  When making Salsa Verde  it’s typical to either cook or roast the tomatillo.  This changes the flavor and texture of the green tomatoes and I wanted to preserve its intrinsic essences.  So I did what my grandmother would have done.  I fired roasted the green tomatoes.  By this I mean I cranked up the gas burner and placed the tomatoes and peppers over the flame and turning until every bit of its skin was chard and blistered.  Perfuming the house with the wonderful aroma that reminded me of my childhood visits to my grandparents home.  This process of charring the skin of a tomato, pepper, or even an onion was a technique that my grandmother used to make salsas.  Charring gives a new depth of flavor that can’t be reproduce by cooking in a pan or oven.  It also preserves more of the fresh flavor of the item being chard since it is not in contacted with heat so long it starts to break down the fibers.  Here is the recipe for a quick and easy Salsa Verde.

Salsa Verde (Green Sauce)

  • 3 lbs.          Green Tomatoes
  • 1 lb.            White Onions
  • 2-4             Jalapenos (use as little or as many as your taste dictates)
  • 1 cup          Cilantro (coarsely chopped and pack into measuring cup)
  • 1/4 c.          Lime Juice (freshly squeezed)
  • 1 1/2 tsp.    Sea Salt (finely ground)
  • 1/2 tsp.       Black Pepper (freshly ground)

Equipment:

  • Cutting board
  • Paring Knife
  • Chefs Knife
  • Food Processer or Blender

Directions:

  1. Wash and dry the green tomatoes and jalapenos and set aside
  2. Remove only the stem end of the white onion and cut in half.  Remove the outer skin and set aside.
  3. Over a medium high flame on the stove place the green tomatoes and jalapenos over the fire on the stoves grate.  Turning once an area is charred and blistered.  Do this until the green tomatoes and jalapenos are completely charred.  Place the charred green tomatoes and jalapenos into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap to cool before removing the skins.
  4. Place the peeled white onion over the medium high flame and roast all sides until you see the surface becomes translucent.  The onion will not get very charred. A sweeter flavor will developed with the fire roasting of the onion.  (Note: do not use any oil to try to assist with charring this can lead to off flavors that are bitter and acrid, not to mention you could start a small fire)
  5. Using a paring knife peel the skin of the green tomatoes and jalapenos.  A small amount of skin left on the vegetables will add to the flavor.
  6. Remove the root end of the white onion and rough chop.  Roughly chop the green tomatoes and jalapenos also.
  7. Place the green tomatoes, jalapenos, onions, cilantro, lime juice, sea salt, and black pepper into a food processor.  Place the cover on the food processor and process until you have your desired texture.  (I prefer a fine texture)  Scrape down the work bowl if necessary.
  8. Taste for salt and pepper.
  9. Place into airtight containers and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or freeze for later use.

Salsa Verde can be used as a topping for your scrambled eggs.  Mixed into a meatloaf for that little something extra.  Simmered with cubes of beef chuck roast or pork shoulder for flavorful and tender Carne Guisada Verde.

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