Salsa Verde

Canning season already has started at our house. We processed apricots over the weekend. The result was nine pints in a light sugar syrup and seven pints of jam.

I was given the opportunity to put up those numbers after a friend, Gary Brundin, called and said one of his neighbors in East Grand Forks had an overabundance of the tart fruit in his backyard. It was a nice way to kick off the canning season.

By the time you read this, hopefully I’ll have added some salsa verde to the pantry shelves. This summer is the first time I’ve tried my hand at growing tomatillos, and the result has been quite satifying. Not only have I had enough to nibble on but also plenty for about a couple of pints for use with some chips long after the growing season ends.

In case you aren’t familiar with tomatillos, they look like small, underripe tomatoes beneath their paperlike husks. Once you unwrap them, you discover firm, slightly sticky flesh with a scent similar to freshly picked herbs.

Tomatillos look like green tomatoes and have the same crunchy texture and tart, citrusy flavor. In fact, the name tomatillo means "small tomato" in Spanish. Most often, they are used either grilled, roasted or blanched in salsa verde, which can be used with chips or as a complement to meat or fish.

Here’s a recipe for salsa verde and a recipe that uses the sauce in a Mexican salmon salad sandwich.

Salsa Verde
2 large tomatillos (6 to 7 ounces each)
2 medium scallions
1 small jalapeno chili
¼ cup firmly packed fresh cilantro leaves and stems
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice|
2 small garlic cloves, pressed or minced
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
Husk, rinse and thickly slice the tomatillos; (you should have about 1½ cups). Trim and thickly slice the white and light green parts of the scallions (about ¼ cup) and coarsely chop the jalapeno (about 2 teaspoons).
Combine the vegetables and the cilantro in a food processor. Add the oil, lime juice and garlic. Pulse until finely chopped. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Yield: 1 cup.
Approximate nutritional analysis per 1/2 cup serving: 147 calories, 85 percent of calories from fat, 14.4 grams fat (1.2 grams saturated, 8.3 grams monounsaturated), no cholesterol, 0.9 grams protein, 4.9 grams carbohydrates, 1.3 grams fiber, 295 milligrams sodium.

Mexican Salmon Salad Sandwiches
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
½ cup tomatillo salsa
1 14½-ounce can salmon, drained and deboned
1 ripe avocado
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 7-inch pitas
2 cups baby romaine lettuce leaves
Stir the mayonnaise and lime juice into the salsa in a medium bowl. Flake the salmon into the salsa mixture, leaving the pieces large.
Halve, seed and peel the avocado, and cut it into ½-inch cubes (about 1 cup). Fold it into the salmon mixture, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Slice open the tops of the pitas. Divide the salmon mixture and romaine among them, and serve.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 563 calories, 51 percent of calories from fat, 32.3 grams fat (4.9 grams saturated, 11.2 grams monounsaturated), 53.4 milligrams cholesterol, 27.8 grams protein, 41 grams carbohydrates, 5.9 grams fiber, 565 milligrams sodium.