Salsa Verde

MAKES: About 2 cups

TIME: 30 minutes

Salsa Verde is a good all-purpose salsa that keeps in the fridge for at least a week. Spoon it onto scrambled eggs and roll in a flour tortilla with a little cheese or serve a bowlful with Naked Tamales or any of the variations.

To keep this on the mild side, substitute another poblano for the hot chile. But if in-your-face heat is what you’re looking for, add even more hot chiles or some of their seeds.

10 to 12 tomatillos, husked and rinsed

3 tablespoons neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn

2 large onions, diced

5 cloves garlic, minced

2 medium poblano or other mild fresh green chiles, roasted and cleaned (see Peppers and Chiles)

1 or 2 serrano or other hot fresh green chiles, roasted and cleaned (see Peppers and Chiles; optional)

1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican

1 cup vegetable stock or water

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

Preheat the oven to 400В°F. Put the tomatillos on a baking sheet and roast until the skins are lightly browned and blistered, about 20 minutes. Remove the tomatillos; when they’re cool enough to handle, chop them finely, along with the chiles, saving their juices.

While the tomatillos are roasting, put the olive oil in a large deep skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatillos, chiles, oregano, stock, and a large pinch of salt and pepper; stir and bring to a low simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is slightly thickened, 10 to 15 minutes.

Stir in the cilantro and lime juice and taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve at room temperature or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days (bring back to room temperature before serving).

Variations

Green Enchilada Sauce. For Squash Enchiladas: Use an immersion blender to pure the finished sauce in the pan. Or cool the mixture slightly, pour into a blender or food processor, and pure carefully.

Green Chile Salsa. Milder and simpler: Increase the chiles to 5 poblanos; omit the tomatillos and serranos. Decrease the stock to 1/4 cup, more or less, as needed. Proceed with Steps 1 and 2; then use an immersion blender to pure the salsa. Or cool the mixture slightly, pour into a blender, and pure carefully. Proceed with Step 3. This salsa will keep in the refrigerator, covered, for a couple of days.

Super-Spicy Chile-Garlic Salsa. Blistering really: Substitute 3 to 5 habaneros for the poblanos and serranos; omit the tomatillos, onion, oregano, and stock. Put the habaneros and garlic in a small skillet over medium heat. Cook, shaking the skillet occasionally, until the garlic and chiles are brown (or partially wrap the garlic and chiles in foil and roast in a 400В°F oven for about 30 minutes). Stem and seed the chiles (wear gloves, if you have them, or wash your hands thoroughly). Put the chiles, garlic, cilantro, and lime juice in a food processor or blender and pure until pasty. Serve immediately or refrigerate, covered, for up to several days.

Pumpkin Seed Sauce. Thick and with a toasted nut flavor like green mole, only much easier: Toast or roast 1 cup green pumpkin seeds (pepitas; see Nuts and Seeds) and pulse them several times in a food processor until finely chopped. Add them to the onion-garlic mixture in Step 2 along with 1 tablespoon minced fresh epazote if you like