As fall roasting comes along, I tend to turn toward the sweetness of apples and pumpkins, cider braises and maple syrup or red wine sauces to stave off the encroaching chill. But New England Fall crops are also perfect for another option: firey tart salsa verde.
I often feel a little unorthodox when I turn my Somerville local and seasonal ingredients into Mexican classics. If the Massachusset and the Puritans didn't make it, if no one could image it in Fannie Farmer's kitchen, is it really local and seasonal? I guess what I'm getting at is a whole series of questions: Are we thinking of local and seasonal as what CAN be grown in New England at this time of year, or what HAS been grown in New England at this time of year? At what point does something start to qualify as a "native" ingredient? What kind of historical research am I asking myself to undertake? Are the benefits of a "local diet" based not only on ingredients that are tasty and healthy because they are local and fresh, but also on the nutritional balance of established food traditions (think: the Meditrranean Diet)? What about the variety and rebalancing offered by the (im)migration of crops and peoples? Didn't pasta come to Italy from China, potatoes to Ireland from South America? Will we one day talk about that New England classic, Roasted Tomatillo Salsa Verde?
Roasted Tomatillo Salsa Verde
3 jalapenos (if you still have them fresh whole, great. They were in season about a month ago, though, so I have bags of them choppend and frozen, which preserves them wonderfully)
2 green tomatoes
3 cloves garlic
2 yellow or green peppers
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
Cut the yellow or green peppers in half and remove the seeds. Line a baking sheet or two with tin foil. Lay the jalapenos (if you have them whole), tomatillos (whole, with papery outside removed), green tomatoes (whole), and yellow or green peppers on the baking sheet and roast at 350 for 45-60 minutes, until beginning to brown. Remove from oven and as soon as they are cool enough to handle, roughly chop. Meanwhile, chop the onion and garlic and saute until beginning to turn golden. Add all of the other ingredients and simmer low, stirring occasionally, for 45-60 minutes. Roughly blend using an immersion blender or food processor. Store in the refrigerator for up to one month.
This can also be canned, but to do so you'll have to add a bunch of lemon or lime juice or citric acid--I'm still working on the perfect version so stay tuned!
My favorite ways to use this salsa are as a dip for chips, as a layer in burritos or enchiladas or nachos, or in carne molida.