Roasted Tomatillo Salsa & Local Food

Tomatillos Cut
I’m sure you hear the term ‘shop local’ quite often. With all of the ‘back to school’ noise, food chatter comes with that, and local food is always at the forefront of many food conversations. I’m compelled to write about this, because I hear way too much food elitism and food snobbery going on in conversation… often. It pains me to hear the things people declare about their food, and how superior it is because of a laundry list of reasons, and at the top of the list: the food is local. To me, there are many ways to shop local, and many ways to define it. Most common, to some folks, would be seeking out a farmer down the way, like our lovely friend Ellen. We purchase a weekly garden share from Ellen and her family at Bell Farm, and we really enjoy it! But did you know that shopping at your grocery store can be ‘shopping local’ too?
See Ellen… I told you she was LOVELY!

Many different factors dictate how ‘local’ you can shop year around. Climate, per se is a huge factor when it comes to fresh produce. Our CSA is a 20 week program, and we get loads of delicious food, some of which I preserve and can for winter months. Meat, is a foodstuff that we can have pretty dang ‘local’ all year around in the Midwest. Farms like ours produce much of the meat (pork) you can find in your local grocery store. Which is a good deal for us… because we shop there too.
So, the next time you purchase a party-pack-of-pork-chops here in Iowa, we thank you for your business! In Iowa, pig farmers produce approximately 25% of our nation’s pork, fairly local if you ask me!
Kid Pig Farmer
I am a fan of choices. We have more choices in the foods we eat now, than ever before. I just want to impress upon you that buying fruits and vegetables, protein and more for your family is the most important thing, and I’ll support you with kind words no matter where you are getting those healthful foods from to put on your kids’ plates. I don’t have the slightest care in the world if your apple was cradled in a box of handmade apple pillows on the way to the farmers market. Okay, that was a little silly, but you see where I’m coming from, right?
We are really blessed to have an abundance of food and really quality people, like many farmers I know, including Ellen, committed to growing and raising the food that we feed our families.  Here’s a picture my brother in law sent to me (to make me jealous that he is riding Rico-The-Wonder-Horse and I’m not). This beef? Yes, sold in your grocery stores… in Iowa!
Tomatillos are my friend, thank you for sending them in my CSA box, Ellen: When I opened my CSA share over the past two weeks, I discovered tomatillos. I’ve never cooked with these interesting little things. They are tomato-looking… but more dense, with an earthy flavor, quite interesting if you ask me. I’ve never made Salsa Verde, and it was a rewarding first try.
Tomatillos Cut
Roasting anything enhances flavors, so there was no question that I’d do that. I was sure to remove the husks from the tomatillos and rinse them with warm water to remove the sticky film that covers them. Then I sliced some of the larger ones in half for more even roasting. For some reason, the photo above didn’t have the onions or jalapeno on the baking sheet. Oooops, sorry. The thing that isn’t on there that may surprise you? Garlic. Why? Because burned garlic is one of the grossest things on the planet. I like garlic fresh, it does have some bite that makes this salsa deliciously fresh in flavor.
The first time I tried this salsa was for lunch yesterday. It was a winner. Today I used the leftovers on top of a basic taco dip I made and had a few people ask how to make it! Give it a try… and let me know what you think!

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

Tomatillos make this salsa earthy and delicious! Roasting them deepens the flavor tremendously. Serve this anywhere you'd serve traditional salsa, for a different flavor!
Prep Time25 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time35 minutes
Servings: 2 cups
Author: Cristen


  • 1 pound tomatillos husk removed, rinsed (large tomatillos cut in half)
  • 1 regular jalapeno pepper stem removed, cut in half lengthwise, membrane and seeds removed
  • 1 small white onion quartered (cut into similar size of tomatillos)
  • 1 regular sized jalapeno pepper stem removed, split in half lengthwise, membranes and seeds removed
  • 1/3 cup cilantro leaves, loosely packed *sub parsley or chives for cilantro if you like
  • 2 medium cloves of garlic roughly chopped
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp salt


  • Preheat broiler to high, adjust oven rack to top position (about 5" from the broiler unit). Husk, rinse and chop large tomatillos, arrange them on a baking sheet.
  • Add onions and jalapeno pepper pieces to baking sheet. When broiler is to temp, place baking sheet under it for 4-5 minutes. Allow parts of tomatillos to blacken/brown well. Remove from oven, flip tomatillos and return baking sheet to oven for an additional 4-5 minutes. Be watchful this time, but you will certainly have blackened bits on some tomatillos, and some will just be soft.
  • Add cilantro (or parsley or chives) to food processor with chopped garlic. Process until fine. Add roasted tomatillos and onion plus juices from baking sheet. Add cumin. Process until combined about 10-20 pulses or 20 seconds running the machine. Season with salt to taste (likely 1/4 tsp). Pulse to combine. Serve immediately, store in refrigerator in covered container for 1 week or 10 days.

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  • Reply Beth Ann August 11, 2015 at 12:27 pm

    I have never used tomatillos and have wondered about the best way to use them. Looks like I have the answer now. I am hoping I can find a CSA in our new area —I would love to support that and also have some great fresh varieties that I may not try otherwise. Our son has one he uses in Raleigh and he is constantly texting me pictures of veggies and asking what it is and how to use them. I love that our country is trying to get back to the basics in eating in a lot of ways and using some produce that is not the basic boring stuff. :-)

  • Reply Stacey McCullough August 11, 2015 at 4:40 pm

    This looks delicious! I have walked by the tomatillos many times in our grocery store and wanted to try them out but just wasn’t sure how to prepare I know!

    Thanks, girl!

    • Reply Cristen September 2, 2015 at 2:50 pm

      They are interesting little things Stacey! It was definitely a good salsa to make! I may try to can a bit next time so I can savor the flavor longer! XOXO

  • Reply Kristin @ Iowa Girl Eats August 12, 2015 at 6:50 pm

    Daaaang girl, this salsa looks AWESOME!! I will definitely give it a try the next time I come across some tomatillos!

    • Reply Cristen September 2, 2015 at 2:48 pm

      Oh, you kill me! Thank you! I hope we see each other soon! Watch the jalapenos in this salsa… I made mine a bit hot (I doubled the peppers on a batch.) XOXO See you soon!

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