"Things won are done,
Joy's Soul lies in the Doing."
- William Shakespeare

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Out of the Box, Take 7

I'm on a preserving mission over here, people.  It appears that something has taken hold of me, some ancestral spirit, driving me on..."Feed Your Family!" shouts my inner Laura Ingalls.  And I must say, once I began to get the hang of things, I've found that I'm really enjoying myself.  While it's undeniably easier to simply purchase tinned tomatoes, or sauce, or salsa, from the store, there's a huge burst of satisfaction that comes from knowing I made this.  For my people.  And it's kind of fun.  Plus, I get the best of both worlds:  Grounding myself in some solid traditions from the past (while wearing a pretty apron)...and rocking the modern conveniences we're so fortunate to have (dishwasher humming away, while I sing along to my current favorite Pandora station).  Good times, my fine friends.

So, today, it's not a tomato recipe I have for you (readers sigh in relief), but a tomatillo recipe.  A Roasted Tomatillo Salsa recipe, to be precise.  We've had an abundance of lovely, small tomatillos from our CSA box, these past several weeks, and heaps of cilantro, and I must say, I was having a struggle keeping up.  (In a good, no-suffering-involved-sort of way.)  Then, when I read that you can freeze salsa, the proverbial light bulb shone brightly, and away I went.

I loosely followed a Bon Appetit recipe that I found on Epicurious, adjusting the amounts to suit what I had going on.  You can do the same, salsa is something that is very easy to get right.  Especially when you roast it.  Ah...absolutely heavenly.  The tomatillos, once blended in the food processor, attain a nearly creamy consistency.  This salsa is perfect on shrimp or fish tacos, grilled veggies, and may I suggest going for it on your enchiladas?  Oh, yes.  It's pretty much a food to sigh over.  (I find I do that sighing-over-food thing rather often.)

Here you go:

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa - adapted from the Bon Appetit recipe, on Epicurious
- makes about 2 1/2 pints

2 to 2 1/2 lbs tomatillos
1 medium onion, halved, then cut into thirds
1 - 2 jalapenos, depending on your heat tolerance
6 cloves garlic, skins left on, but lightly bashed with knife, just enough to break the paper
1 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
olive oil
kosher salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 deg F.

In a large baking dish, place tomatillos (left whole), onion, garlic cloves, and jalapenos (also left whole).  Drizzle with a tablespoon or so of olive oil, and sprinkle with salt. 

Roast until very soft.  The recipe I had recommended a 375 deg oven for large tomatillos, roasting for an hour.  I had small tomatillos, so I banged the heat up to 400, and they were lovely and soft in about 35 minutes.  Just check them from time to time.  Short of forgetting them completely, you really cannot mess this up.

Once roasting has finished, slice the stem end off the jalapeno(s), and slice in half, and throw into the food processor.  Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves from their skins into the food processor bowl, and add the tomatillos and onions.  (You may need to do this in 2 batches, depending on the size of your processor/batch of salsa.)  Pulse for a bit, until roughly chopped, then add the cilantro, and pulse until the salsa is nearly, but not quite, puréed.  A little texture is a good thing.  Check, and adjust seasoning, if necessary.

I wouldn't recommend canning this recipe, because of the risks of botulism.  You can read a bit about that here, on Food in Jars.  Since I read that salsa freezes well (cross fingers), I'm giving it a go, and froze 1 1/2 pints.  I also learned that mason jars can be stuck in the freezer...did you know this?!  I had no idea.  So much nicer than using plastic, right?  But I was still a little scared, so I froze one plastic container, and one pint jar.  And I left quite a bit of room for expansion.  I'll let you know what happens.

So, that's today's Adventure in Preserving.  Stay tuned.  By the way, I bought another 20 pound box of tomatoes yesterday.

Sheepish Grin.

That's my Inner Laura for you.  Getting up to all sorts of crazy business.

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