I’m not sure if it’s just because avocados are expensive, but some version of this salsa is typically the preparation that fills the guacamole role in many taquerías in Mexico. It’s smoother and saucier than what any of us would think of as the ubiquitous chip dip, and it’s zestier. In the tradition of Mexican salsas, its easy spoonability and bright flavor make it a perfect condiment.
This salsa reflects my current favorite balance of ingredients. On both Seasons 7 and 9 of Mexico: One Plate at a time, I made slightly different versions.
I know cooks who make the raw tomatillo part of this salsa and never add the avocado. Its flavor is incredibly compelling, but the dazzle ages quickly and, even at its best, liquid quickly leaks out from the slushy-looking mixture. The avocado helps solve the textural problem, but this salsa is still best eaten within a few hours of making it.
I’m always on the fence about allium relatives in this salsa. Onion and/or garlic, whizzed in a blender or food processor like lots of cooks do, have a tendency to take over. One solution is to hand-chop the onion, rinse it to eliminate the stronger flavors, and add it to the finished salsa. Or roast or blanch the garlic to mellow it, then blend it along with everything. Another approach is to make roasted tomatillo salsa and blend in avocado. It’s delicious, but not nearly as bright tasting.
8ounces (3 or 4 medium)tomatillos, husked, rinsed and roughly chopped
Freshhot green chile (start with 1 serrano or ½ jalapeño), stemmed, white veins and seeds removed (if you wish) and roughly chopped
A smallhandful of cilantro, roughly chopped (stems and all)
1ripeavocado, cut in half, pit removed, flesh scooped from the skin and roughly chopped
About 1tablespoonfinely chopped white onion
Make raw tomatillo salsa. In a blender or food processor, combine the tomatillos, chile, cilantro and 1/3 cup water. Pulse until the mixture is reduced to a coarse puree (I think its best when it still has a little texture).
Thicken with avocado. Scoop in the avocado and pulse until it is thoroughly incorporated. Scoop into a salsa dish and stir in enough water to give it an easily spoonable consistency, usually about a tablespoon.
Add onion and season. Scoop the onion into a strainer and rinse under cold water, shake off the excess and stir into the salsa. Taste and season with salt, usually a scant teaspoon.
Playing around: Different fresh chiles will change the character of this salsa—especially ones that are light green and yellow (I’m thinking about hot banana peppers and the little lemon drop peppers I like to grow). And, of course, you can range away from cilantro as the herb here. A handful of arugula is good, as are mint, basil, hoja santa, and fennel tops.