Purple is the New Green

Trying new foods is one of my favorite things about participating in our CSA. Let’s be honest – how often do you buy the exact same things at the grocery store? Broccoli, lettuce, cucumbers, carrots. Lather, rinse, repeat. So, when tomatillos first showed up in our CSA, I was stumped. Especially since Andy doesn’t really “do” sauces. What was I going to do with them?

If my memory is correct, I ran them through the blender with some garlic and lime juice and called it salsa verde. And while I’m sure we ate it (probably at a taco night), we must not have loved it, or I wouldn’t have gone looking for another solution.

Thank goodness for the internet. And food bloggers who know their way around Tex-Mex. The next time tomatillos rolled around, I was prepared. I roasted the tomatillos along with some garlic and peppers (jalapenos or poblanos, depending on what came in our CSA, since hatch chiles aren’t plentiful in my neck of the woods). I gave it all a quick spin in the blender, and bam! I had the answer to all of my tomatillo problems, along with a fantastic batch of enchiladas for dinner.

The original recipe calls for Greek yogurt (which I sub for sour cream, nine times out of 10). I add the yogurt/sour cream when I’m making the enchiladas, but I skip it if I’m using the sauce in the crockpot or freezing it. (I’m not sure how well the sour cream would hold up to 10 hours in the crockpot.)

There’s just one problem – my salsa “verde” has never actually been green. It’s usually a rather unattractive tan, but when the latest batch turned a bright pinky-purple, I figured I’d try to get a picture to share with the world. (Of course, the lack of daylight at dinner time makes for not-so-hot pictures… details, right?) So there you have it. Purple is the new green, at least at our house.


Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

Approximately 1 lb. tomatillos, rinsed, husked and sliced in half (Our CSA usually gives us between a pound and a pound and a quarter – I just use them all.) 
2-3 jalapeno or poblano peppers (I use two if they’re jalapenos; three if they’re the more mild poblano peppers.) 
3 garlic cloves, peeled
juice of 1 lime
2/3 cup sour cream, optional (it makes the salsa creamier and helps tone down the heat, if your peppers ended up giving you more than you bargained for.)
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil, then lightly brush the foil with olive oil. Place the tomatillos, cut side down, on the baking sheet. Arrange the peppers and garlic around the tomatillo halves. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft. Remove the pan from the oven.

Place the tomatillos and garlic cloves in a blender (or a large bowl, if you’re using an immersion blender). Let the peppers cool until you can handle them, then remove the seeds and skins. Place the peppers in the blender with the tomatillos and garlic, and then add the lime juice. Puree until smooth. Stir in the sour cream (if using) and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Use in your favorite tacos or enchiladas .Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Adapted from The Brewer and The Baker / Confections of a Foodie Bride

Click here for a printable version.


Saving My Cilantro

I have a love-hate relationship with cilantro. (And no, not the “love to hate it” type of relationship.) I love its bright, fresh flavor in my salsa, soup and sauces. I hate how it seems go bad faster than any other green item in my fridge. It never seems to last more than a few days, even in my produce-saver bags. Which means I throw out more cilantro than I’d like to admit. (Food blogger fail, I know.) 

Enter this recipe. It’s a great way to use up cilantro before it “turns.” (Side note: I think of Mater every time I hear someone say something has “turned.” Anyone else?) As I was prepping this, I realized that this sauce is essentially a nut-free, cilantro pesto. It was simple to make and worked well on both the grilled shrimp and rice and beans.

Cilantro Sauce
The sauce is a much brighter green when you make it. After a day or two in the fridge, the color darkens (but the flavor is just as good).

Cilantro Sauce

1 1/2 cups cilantro leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
juice of 1 lemon
2 garlic cloves
3 tablespoon oil (I used canola because I didn’t want to deviate too far from the original recipe, but next time I’ll use olive oil instead.)

Combine the cilantro and garlic in the bowl of a small food processor. Pulse until the cilantro is finely chopped and the garlic is minced into tiny pieces. Add the ginger and lemon juice and pulse to combine. Add the oil and process until the mixture is smooth.

Brush over shrimp or fish while grilling, or use as a dipping sauce or dressing for shrimp, chicken, rice, etc. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Adapted from Cooking For Two, Spring 2007

Click here for a printable version.

Maple Mustard Greatness

When I was in college, one of my favorite places to eat on campus was a little chicken place inside the student center. I’d order a chicken strips and waffle fries, and then proceed to dunk them in either barbecue or honey mustard sauce. Or both. Mmm. (No judgment about my less-than-healthy choices, OK? I was young. And I did have to walk halfway across the KSU campus to get my dinner…) 

Now that I’m all grown up (when exactly did that happen, anyway?), dinners of waffle fries and chicken strips are few and far between. However, my love for honey mustard has not faded, and this salad dressing is definitely a grown-up version of my favorite college condiment. It’s sweet, thanks to the maple syrup, with a little bit of a kick from the garlic and mustard. It’s good for salads, sandwiches AND chicken strips, in case you want to relieve your childhood (or college days).

And while I am a fan of dressings, sauces and all things mustard, Andy is not. Which means this stuff is all mine. 😀

A couple of notes: The full recipe makes a LOT of dressing (about two cups), which is much more than you need if you’re making this with the salad. It does, however, scale down very well, by both 50 percent and 25 percent. I’m including the full recipe below, since it keeps pretty well in the fridge, and if you’re making chicken strips, well, you want to have enough for eating with a spoon dipping. 🙂

If you’re looking for a way to use up any remaining butternut squash, I would definitely recommend the salad. (I’ve made it for both a work potluck and our Easter dinner, and it’s been well-received both times.) If you do make the it, I’d suggest roasting the squash and apples separately, as the apples seem to get mushy long before the squash is done.


Maple Mustard Salad Dressing

4 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon stone-ground mustard
2/3 cup real maple syrup
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup canola oil
salt and pepper to taste, if needed (I found I didn’t need to add any.) 

Combine all of the ingredients, except for the oil, in a large measuring cup or blender. (I used my glass four-cup Pyrex and my immersion blender.) Blend until the garlic cloves are smooth and integrated. Slowly stream the oil into the measuring cup while the blender runs. Blend until emulsified and smooth. Store, covered, in the refrigerator.

From Two Peas and Their Pod

Click here for a printable version.

New Favorite Condiment

Or, at least, my favorite after some good guacamole. (Apparently I like green dips. Who knew?) I discovered this one while I was searching for a solution to our squash situation. While the soup didn’t rate high enough to go into our regular rotation, this avocado lime cream blew me away. I ate it on stuffed peppers, in tacos, on pretzels and then proceeded to lick the container clean. (What? Waste not, want not! 😉 ) 

It was a welcome addition to taco night, and Arron, Karen’s hubby and the master of sauces, gave it a thumbs up. Best of all, it’s super easy to throw together – always a good thing in my book.

I realize this isn’t a picture of JUST the cream. I also made homemade lime tortilla chips and salsa verde. It just happens to be my favorite of the photos.In case you’re wondering, the cream is on the left, the salsa verde on the right.

Avocado Lime Cream

1/2 cup sour cream (I used the reduced fat)
1 avocado, sliced
handful of cilantro, large stems discarded
juice of one lime
1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine the ingredients in a blender or food processor. (I use a glass bowl and my immersion blender.) Process until smooth and creamy. Store in the refrigerator.

The flavors meld together after some time in the fridge, so I like to make this 12-24 hours in advance.

From Erin’s Food Files