Pan-Roast Your Way to Flavorful Fat-Free Tomatillo Salsa

2 Sep

Wanna get roasty flavor from your tomatillos and tomatoes without added oil or turning on the oven? Try pan-roasting, an old Mexican technique that I learned about from Reed Hearon’s La Parrilla: The Mexican Grill (Chronicle Books 1996).

Pretty all the way from start to finish

According to Hearon, Pan-roasting dates back to the times when Mexicans didn’t have enough natural fats available to fry or sauté. It is pretty easy and gives an added depth to those bursting-with-freshness summer flavors. Just cook whole vegetables at a low temperature till they brown thoroughly and Bob’s Your Uncle!

Beautiful tomatillos from Restoration Farm!

When choosing tomatillos, look for tightly wrapped husks and very skin stretched tightly over firm flesh. They are in season now (Here’s an oven-roasted charred salsa recipe for variation) and add the slightest of sweet fruitiness to this salsa.

Brown ’em down

Don’t limit yourself to chips and salsa; I used this on grilled fish with very felicitous results. Órale…


Pan-Roasted Tomatillo and Tomato Salsa

8-10 tomatillos, husked and rinsed clean

An equal amount of tomatoes (Roma preferred)

One thick center slice of onion (1/2’), peeled, but not separated

1 habanero pepper, whole (more, if you want more heat)

Three cloves garlic, unpeeled

Salt, pepper, squeeze of fresh lime, and hot sauce to taste

Heat a skillet or griddle (smooth, not grooved like a grill pan) on low  to medium-low. When warm, place all the vegetables, including garlic in pan and allow to cook slowly, turning occasionally. You don’t want them to char or burn; you want them to brown and become tender. You can remove faster cooking vegetables as they brown. When all vegetables are soft and brown, remove. Carefully peel garlic. Even more carefully, open habanero(s) and remove stem, core and seeds (use gloves; wash hands thoroughly and don’t touch your eyes!). Place vegetables in food processor and process to desired smoothness. Add salt, pepper, lime, and optional hot sauce to taste. Serve with tortilla chips, or with grilled or fried fish.


9 Responses to “Pan-Roast Your Way to Flavorful Fat-Free Tomatillo Salsa”

  1. debbiestrange September 3, 2012 at 3:08 pm #

    I cannot wait to try this; sounds wonderful!

  2. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide September 3, 2012 at 6:27 am #

    Looks wonderful!

  3. Mad Dog September 2, 2012 at 1:21 pm #

    Brilliant – I’ll have to try this 😉

  4. ceciliag September 2, 2012 at 8:04 am #

    I have piles of tomatillos, what else can I do with them!? Pan roasting is a good idea too.. c

    • Natalia at Hot, Cheap & Easy September 2, 2012 at 10:17 am #

      I just made a green tomato tomatillo bisque…will post in a couple of days. They keep well in a paper bag in the fridge, so you should be able to try something like it!

  5. Conor Bofin September 2, 2012 at 4:47 am #

    Lovely invention. I can imagine the aromas wafting off the griddle as they cook.

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