Roasted Tomato and Tomatillo Salsa

07 . 26 . 10

Rick Bayless knows salsa. Alice Waters calls him a “brilliant teacher with an inexhaustible curiosity about authentic Mexican cooking.” I couldn’t agree more. Looking for another way to use up the piles of tomatoes I have around the kitchen, I turned to In The Green Kitchen (techniques to learn by heart), where Bayless describes the simple and delicious way to serve up heirlooms and tomatillos. I combined the two, added some mango, and served it on everything from salad, cumin roasted garbanzo beans, and zucchini noodles.

Some of you might be thinking, wait – what’s a tomatillo again? I did a little digging online and found a great explanation from a site called Vegetarians in Paradise… (cute, right?)

“Tomatillos earn their diminutive name by their petite size that varies from that of a cherry tomato to one of a small tomato. What makes them unique in appearance is their paperlike cellulose husk covering that resembles the shape of a small green lantern that hangs downward from the bushy, annual plant on which it grows. Inside the protective husk is a smooth, plump, firm variety of tomato that is usually picked green. When fully ripened, they are actually yellow, but these are rarely brought to market. The husks turn a greenish brown when the fruit is losing its freshness.With their dense, highly seeded interior, tomatillos burst with a distinctive tart, lemony flavor that makes them the perfect ingredient in Mexican dishes like fresh salsa.

The highly nutritional aspects of tomatillos may surprise you. One medium raw tomatillo contains only 11 calories, yet it packs 91 mg. of potassium. That same little fruit contains 4 mg. of vitamin C, 2.4 mg of calcium, 2.38 mg. of folic acid, and 39 IU of vitamin A. Imagine the benefits if you include several in your recipe.”

Roasted Tomatillo and Tomato Salsa

Adapted from Rick Bayless, In the Green Kitchen (Waters)

  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • 4 ripe heirloom tomatoes
  • 6-7 small tomatillos
  • 1 medium sized sweet onion
  • salt
  • 2 limes
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • 1 mango

Remove skins from tomatillos and give them a vigorous wash. Core the tomatoes and tomatillos and cut them into quarters and 1/8 slices/chunks. Heat a skillet (preferably cast iron) over high heat. Add the garlic (skins on) and tomatoes and tomatillos and cook for 10 minutes until they soften and brown. When tender, remove from heat.

Squeeze garlic out of the skins, and pour roasted mixture into a mortar or large bowl. Mash the mixture into a “mush.” Peel and finely dice the onion, put in a strainer, and rinse in cold water to crisp the onion and take away some of the raw bite. Stir in onion, chopped cilantro, and chopped mango chunks. Season with salt and lime juice.


  • I’m going to try this recipe (with a bit of chile added thoug :)), it sounds refreshing! Plus the thought of not roasting the tomatillos before making the salsa is so appealing in this heat…

  • Hey Kelsey!
    Wowwwww, your recipes and pictures look amazingly delicious and wonderful. I can’t wait to try them :) :)

  • Hi, Kelsey! Thanks for stopping by yesterday. :) I had no idea what tomatillos were before this year, but I’m a convert now. And the flavors in this salsa sound great—cilantro and rice wine vinegar? Sold.

  • Kelsey

    Thanks all! Gabriela, that means a lot coming from you! I bet you make a mean salsa!

  • Hi, Kelsey! A commenter on my Food As Medicine blog mentioned yours- and I see you have already linked to mine! I’ve returned the compliment, because I think your blog looks yummy :) Great photographs, great information, great job! Cheers- Jo

  • I love making homemade salsa. This one looks particularly fantastic!

  • Maria

    Would you recomind this recipe for canning? I have buckets of fresh produce that needs to be processed ASAP!
    This looks the the perfect salsa to help combat the long harsh winter we’re expected to get.

[gravityform id="1" name="Let's get in Touch" ajax="true"]