Let’s start with salsa.

Ah, January. The Longest, Coldest Month. Right After the Holidays. So Difficult to Motivate.  But like Maria said, “Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.” So let’s begin, right here.  (P.S. Welcome back! I’m coming in loud and clear.)

The Christmas season is now officially over (I’ve marked this as coinciding with the end of the holiday train show at the New York Botanical Gardens) and I feel like writing again.

I also feel like cooking again, having endured (while at the same time loving every minute of it) the usual temptations, food-wise, of the season.

Now, however. Now is not the time for resolutions which will never be kept, those that mean to make me feel deprived and embroiled in a relentless struggle to be “good.” No, now is a time to return to my beloved weekly routine of making food for myself, which I actually adore, in which I want to pay attention to what I’m eating because, well, I like food that tastes good.

The star of my meal tonight was undoubtedly the salsa verde, so that’s what I want to talk about this evening.

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So green, so good.

Now let me explain about salsa and me.  Before I met Jorge, my wonderful sweetheart and unwitting sensei into the realm of Mexican cuisine, I had a bit of a thing for salsa, albeit the kind from a jar, usually served with tortilla chips from a bag. I’m not even sure, though, if I’d ever tried a real, homemade salsa verde until about 2 years ago.

When I realized I could make salsa verde myself, it was a moment exactly as I had had in France when I was 22, staying with a host family, and tried my host mother’s homemade vinaigrette salad dressing. The lightbulb went on: “I can make my own dressing? No way.”  I’d grown up eating bottled Zesty Italian dressing thinking that was as good as it ever got.

Salsa verde is about the easiest thing to make at home, aside from a good homemade French vinaigrette.

And the versatility! It’s equally at home alongside some breakfast eggs, some weeknight rice and beans, or zesting up a chicken breast or roasted vegetables, on a baked sweet potato, etc. And of course: CHILAQUILES.

But first, salsa.

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A silly salsa verde doodle “food equation.” I like to pare recipes down to essentials – it leaves room for deduction and creativity!
A Basic Formula for Salsa Verde:
10 tomatillos (or more, or less, depending on how much volume you want to result)
1 – 3 jalapeños (some like it hot, some like it not)
2 – 3 garlic cloves
Couple fistfuls of cilantro (I suppose this could be optional but for Pete’s sake, try it with the cilantro.)
Salt to taste
Pop everything into a blender (cut up the tomatillos and jalapeños very roughly before throwing them in, it helps them release their natural juices more easily, meaning you don’t have to add water to help the mix become salsa, meaning MORE FLAVOR!)  You can use the tomatillos and jalapeños raw, or toast them first over the burner flame on your gas stove, or blanch them in boiling water for a few minutes.  Whatever your choice, blend well.  It will look a bit like the green slime from Nickelodeon’s You Can’t Do That On Television.  That’s how you know it’s right.  Use immediately or refrigerate, usually up to one week.  And tell me that isn’t the tastiest thing you’ve made at home, in a similar amount of time, in a long while.
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