Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


I am one of those (obnoxiously) proud Mommies. I'll own that flat out. The way I see it, I have every reason to be proud of my offspring. They are great. Case in point:

Recently on his food blog my son (the chef!) wrote about some killer fish tacos he'd made.After the teensiest recurrent seethe over why the kid couldn't have demonstrated this flair for producing fabulous food while he still lived at home, I took a good look at the Salsa Verde recipe he'd posted as part of the meal and thought to myself "I could do that". It would be a great way to use up a few of our garden's bounty of tomatillos.Yes, we have no tomatoes (or at least very few and far in between) this year. And yes, our jalapeño plants have been sparse producers, but our tomatillo plants have pretty much done right by us this season.

This means at the moment I have more tomatillos than I have uses for them, so a new recipe to put them into play was just the ticket. I'd bought an organic avocado at Wheatsville on Sunday figuring I'd be working the salsa into our dinner lineup later this week. It was a little firm, so I put it out with a tomato and a Meyer lemon I was allowing to ripen under a glass dome to share the wealth ethylene gas wise, and when I checked on it this morning, I noted it was just right.

I'm going to blame what happened next on "not enough coffee yet" clutziness. As I was moving the avocado from the counter to the refrigerator, I dropped it on our tile floor.Smash-o. It was indeed perfectly ripe demonstrated by splitting the skin topside on impact and promptly oozing a bit of avocado green goodness out the cracks. Earlier menu plans aside, I knew I'd have to use that avocado right up. Today. So I printed out the salsa recipe.

Salsa Verde:
2 tomatillos, husked and roasted (Green Chiles are a viable alternative for this recipe, or even try using both)
1 habanero, roasted then seeded
1/2 avocado, peeled and pitted
2 T. sour cream
1/2 cup cilantro
2 limes, juiced

Roast tomatillos and peppers (I like heat, I used a habanero, you could use serranos or jalapenos if you prefer) until skins are discolored. Remove seeds from pepper (or leave if you want more heat.)
Combine the remaining ingredients with the tomatillos/peppers in your blender and puree.

My son writes in a somewhat terse style (that must skip a generation?). His recipes do not provide overly much in the way of chefly hand holding. When it comes to somebody with years of experience in the kitchen and yet relatively little formalized training like me, this means after reading his instructions I am often left with a few unanswered questions.

So before I got started today I v-e-r-y c-a-s-u-a-l-l-y worked a couple of what I considered reasonable questions about how to prepare the salsa into a telephone conversation with him.

He had used tomatillos from the grocery store which, last time I shopped, looked like Eastern European Olympic gymnasts of old compared to my sweet little homegrown gals. Did he think four of five of my little darlings would be equivalent to two store sized tomatillos? He did.

I had a past the prime wrinkled jalapeño plus most of a serrano chile on hand. Could I use the wrinkled jalapeño (also from our garden) seeing as I was going to roast it anyway? I could, though he reminded me I'd want to keep an eye out on how many seeds I kept in depending upon the heat I desired.OK. I placed the recipe on the counter, gathered the rest of my ingredients and was good to go.Deciding to roast the tomatillos and peppers stove top rather than in the oven, I got them started and juiced my limes. After opening the container, upon inspection I noted that my organic sour cream had been engaged in some sort of extracurricular growth activities on its surface.Seeing as I wasn't going to cook the salsa, I demurred from introducing a potential new antibiotic to our gastronomic systems and pinch substituted an equivalent amount of organic cream cheese in its stead. I figured what the hell...cream cheese has a bit more texture to it perhaps but pureéd is pureéd, so it all ought to come out yummy in the end.

I whacked up the cilantro a bit to assure I wasn't using too many stems, and unceremoniously dumped the ingredients into the blender. Whirrrrrrrrrr

I tasted, decided to pop in a few slices of pickled jalapeño to up the heat quotient a bit, (yes, yes, I wussed out and didn't keep in enough seeds) re-whirilated it all in the blender and hey presto, here you go.My Son's Salsa Verde. Green, isn't it! It tastes just as fresh as it looks.

It is creamy and delicious and reproducible by even a less than ambitious type home cook such as my own self.I'd asked my son previously why there was a need to roast the tomatillos. I have several other recipes for tomatillo salsas and they mostly required some sort of cooking, but I'd never seen anything calling for them to be roasted prior to this.

He told me the point was to bring out the natural sweetness of the fruit, which would then contrast nicely with the acidity of the sour cream and the lime and yet still provide a bit of acidity all its own to counter the creaminess of the avocado.


It does all that and more. I actually ate one extra roasted tomatillo as soon as it was cool enough and the roasting had indeed brought forward an amazingly complex blend of acidity and sweetness. Who knew?

I figure to feature this salsa verde in some soft tacos of my own for dinner tonight.

I have plans to season and grill some boneless skinless chicken breasts, shred them slightly, toss them with some of the salsa, add sauteéd onion and arugula, fold them into a flour tortilla then top them with some chopped heirloom tomato and maybe some crumbled cotija.

It should be muy muy sabrosa. Maybe I'll even throw together some Vinho Verde white sangria to go with. No reason Wednesday night dinner can't be a little festive. Salud!

Thanks kid. It was fun for me to be trying out one of your recipes and it will be even more fun sharing the delicious results with your Dad at dinner tonight. Keep em' coming!