A salsa recipe that’s super easy and has a distinctive texture and flavor. The best part: It only has six ingredients.

Tomatillo-chipotle salsa

Tomatillo-Chipotle Salsa

Most varieties of tomatillos are still green when they’re ripe. Once the bottom of the papery lantern has split open, they’re ready to be picked.

It’s not unusual for one tomatillo plant to produce as many as 100 fruits.

Our gas grill was broken when I made this salsa, so I tossed the tomatillos in olive oil and then roasted them in a 425 degree oven for about 30 minutes. I lined the baking sheet with a silicone mat so it was easy to scrape all the juices into the bowl.

The recipe calls for roasted garlic, so I put some garlic cloves in the oven at the same time.

When you puree the roasted tomatillos and garlic it gets nice and thick. Once you add the chipotle peppers, the color will darken to what you see in the photo at the top of the page. Start with just one large chipotle pepper and a tablespoon of adobo. You might find (as I did) that it’s plenty.

Last ingredient is the cilantro. I like to chop mine by hand so the pieces are not too small. And I recommend just stirring it in.

I’ve grown tomatillos before, but it’s been a few years. The plants are always so messy and I never managed to figure out a good use for the fruit. I’m not exactly sure why I gave them another go this year, but I’m sure glad I did.

The solution to the messy part was this: When I set my two tomatillo plants out into the garden, each one got its own tomato cage. The plants haven’t stayed completely within their cages, but they’re mostly under control.

The answer to the second problem was a fantastic tomatillo salsa recipe from Mark Miller’s Great Salsa Book. The book has been on my shelf for years, but I hadn’t tried the recipe for Tomatillo Chipotle Salsa. It’s super easy and is a deliciously different texture and flavor from others. When you taste the finished product it’s hard to believe it contains only six ingredients and no tomatoes!

Hint: I’ve always been unsure about when tomatillos are ripe. It turns out they’re considered ripe as soon as they have filled out enough to burst through the bottom of their papery covering. For the variety of tomatillos that I’m growing (Toma Verde), this happens when the fruit is still totally green. If the paper lanterns begin to yellow, that’s OK, but once the fruit inside yellows, it’s past its prime.

Here’s the recipe. In the book it says serve with red meat or pork. I don’t eat a lot of meat, but I’ve been enjoying it with chips, on eggs, with beans and rice and with chicken.

Chipotle Tomatillo Salsa
By Mark Miller, Great Salsa Book, Ten Speed Press 1994

  • 1 pound tomatillos (about 15), blackened and roughly chopped
  • 1 large clove roasted garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 chipotle chiles en adobo
  • 2 tablespoons adobo sauce
  • 1/3 chopped fresh cilantro

Place the tomatillos, garlic, sugar, and salt in a food processor or blender. Blend until mostly puréed. Add the chipotles, adobo sauce, and cilantro leaves and blend briefly, leaving the salsa just a little textured.

Variation: Add more chipotles for a more picante salsa.

Serving suggestions: With red meat or pork

Yield: About 2 cups

Kathy LaLiberte
Director of Gardening, Gardener’s Supply