Salsa verde is unbelievably easy to make.Salsa verde is also unbelievably easy to screw up if you’re not careful about the chiles. Let’s say I wasn’t. Let’s say I roasted a serrano chile then blended the whole thing into the sauce in one go, even though I know you’re supposed to take it slow when adding chiles to anything, roasted or otherwise. And let’s say the result was akin to adding too much salt because once that chile was blended in, there was no way to take it out.
My only hope was to dilute the salsa somehow by adding something. I remembered the bunch of watercress I’d bought for a salad. I chopped of the stems, and in it went. And…voilà! It was one of those kitchen miracles that happen from time to time. The peppery leafy volume not only took the heat down a notch. It also turned the salsa from a somewhat-sickly green to a deep, glistening emerald. It was beautiful and delicious enough to warrant its own name: Salsa Esmeralda.
This version of salsa verde or tomatillo salsa can be served with Mexican dishes but it also makes an amazing sandwich spread and topping for grilled meats. The salsa may thicken and separate in the fridge, simply stir to combine before serving. It will keep up to a week.
1 lb. fresh tomatillos, husks removed then rinsed and drained
1 small (preferably white) onion, quartered
1 small serrano chile
2 cups fresh watercress leaves
¼ cup cilantro leaves
¼ tsp. sugar, optional
1. Preheat the oven to broil. Spread the tomatillos and onion quarters on a baking sheet. Snap off the stem of the serrano chile, and add it to the baking sheet as well. Broil 5 to 10 minutes (depending on the heat of the broiler), or until the vegetables are blackened and soft, turning once or twice to blacken on all sides. Cool 10 minutes.
2. Scrape the roasted vegetables (except serrano) and juices into a food processor, and add the watercress and cilantro. Add half of the serrano chile, and blend until smooth. Season with salt, pepper, and optional sugar (if the sauce is too tangy), and blend in more serrano, if desired. Makes 1½ cups