tomatillo salsa verde

tomatillo salsa verde

Tomatillo salsa verde


Tomatillos are a staple in Mexican Cuisine but living in South Africa it is not a fruit I had ever had the pleasure of seeing before. They are actually a direct relative of the Cape gooseberry – which is indigenous to South Africa, and in the same way, they are surrounded by a thin film-like husk. They have never been cultivated here which I guess is purely related to demand.

A Twitter connection grows tomatillos, had an abundant harvest recently and wanted to give some away. She offered, I immediately said yes, and here we are. Thank you Rosie.

I did loads of Googling and figured you could go with either a raw or cooked salsa, so I opted for both. My roasted tomatillo salsa turned out to be quite bitter which was puzzling because when you eat one of them raw they aren’t. This fresh salsa verde recipe is much better. It still has a slight bitter note which I tried to counterbalance with a drizzle of agave nectar but I prefer it much more. I’m not sure if bitterness is a normal characteristics of them, but I’m keen to know.

All the flavours I included go so well with tomatillos and you can add in varying degrees depending on your taste. I used a fresh jalapeno chilli and then found it need more heat so added a pickled one. This was because I only had one fresh. It definitely needs the finely chopped onion and I prefer spring onions to raw white onion so opted for this. I added this in the end so you get the texture. I’m not a fan of processing onion generally when raw.

I always love playing around with new ingredients and next time I get my hands on tomatillos, I’ll be making a jam. They have loads of pectin so will be perfect for it.

Delicious scooped onto toasted pita bread but otherwise used as a condiment for all manner of Mexican dishes.

tomatillo salsa verde


  • 500g fresh tomatillos, husks removed
  • 2 fresh jalapeno chillies (or pickled)
  • small handful of coriander, stalks can remain on
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4-6 spring onions finely chopped (green and white part)
  • Agave nectar to sweeten (totally optional and if required to taste)
  • a drizzle of olive oil to serve


  1. Put all the ingredients except the spring onions and olive oil in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until you have a fine salsa.
  2. Decant this into a bowl and stir in the spring onions and olive oil. Adjust the seasoning to taste.


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8 Responses to tomatillo salsa verde

  1. Steph July 15, 2014 at 7:06 pm #

    Nice pic!!! I’v never seen purple ones, maybe they are more bitter than the green ones? Love a tomatillo salsa verde : )

  2. cheri July 15, 2014 at 7:11 pm #

    Hi Sam, your salsa verde looks delicious, never have seen a purple tomatillo before, very interesting!

  3. usha July 15, 2014 at 7:43 pm #

    Looks great–never seen these around–would love to get my hands on them—your pictures are fantastic

  4. Elmarie July 15, 2014 at 11:31 pm #

    This was now was very interesting to read!

  5. john | heneedsfood July 16, 2014 at 12:24 am #

    Great recipe! When I was in the States I loved seeing tomatillos at markets almost everywhere. Although I never saw this purple variety. So beautiful! It’s a shame we never really see them here in Sydney. Only the ones in tins.

  6. Laura (Tutti Dolci) July 16, 2014 at 8:39 am #

    I’ve never seen purple tomatillos, how striking!

  7. Thalia @ butter and brioche July 17, 2014 at 12:44 am #

    awesome idea.. ive never used tomatillo’s before – definitely something i will be trying. love it!

  8. Jeanne Horak-Druiff August 7, 2014 at 12:43 pm #

    Oh wow – they are purple when raw?? Awesome! You just don’t get tomatillos easily here in the UK – not the climate for them… Love tomatillo salsa though! Beautiful pics, as always 🙂

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