Tomatillo Recipes

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Mayan Potato Salad (Iguashte)


This incredibly tasty vegan potato salad is made completely from New World ingredients, and is likely very close to dishes enjoyed by the pre-Columbian Mayans.  Our version is inspired by one collected by Copeland Marks in Antigua, Guatemala, for his 1985 False Tongues and Sunday Bread (ISBN 978-1590772768).  The one non-authentic elaboration we’ve used is to toss in minced cilantro, which of course is of Middle Eastern origin.  Feel free to leave it out if you’d like to eat like a Mayan. The easiest way to grow your own pepitos is to put in a few hills of a naked seeded pumpkin, like Lady Godiva.

1 cup pepitos (shelled squash seeds)
1 cup tomatillos, husked and washed
3 cloves garlic, roasted
1 cup stock
1 teaspoon salt
2 pounds waxy red potatoes, washed and cut into 1” dice
3 cups green beans, trimmed and cit into 1” segments
1/3 cup cilantro, minced (optional)

Toast pepitos in a 350º F. oven for 5-10 minutes until light brown.  Let cool.

Place tomatillos on a baking sheet and broil for 10-15 minutes, turning occasionally, until they are soft with a charred surface.  Or, roast on a grill.  Let cool.  Chop fine and place in a bowl.

Place roasted pepitos, roasted tomatillos, roasted garlic, stock and salt into a blender and puree. 

Cover potatoes with salted water and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until just tender, about 15-20 minutes.  Drain.

Blanch the green beans in boiling water until just tender, about 5 minutes.  Drain.

Toss together the potatoes, green beans, sauce, and optional cilantro. Refrigerate an hour before serving.





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Teloloapan Red Mole


Mole is the crown-jewel of the Mexican cuisine, an impossibly luxurious chile sauce made from a wide assortment of Spanish and indigenous ingredients.  Yes, this is probably one of the most involved recipes that we’ve presented.  And, yes, it takes ¾ of a day from start to finish.  But, what you get out of it is one of the most authentic and best-tasting moles that you’ll ever have eaten, without any of the extra salt and preservatives that you’d get from store bought – and at a fraction of the price. 

Our recipe follows rather closely one presented in the award-winning 1996 Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen.  This mole is really nothing more than a cooked concoction of chocolate with a chile paste and a spiced nut and bread paste.  You can easily spread the construction of the mole out over multiple days; for instance you can make the chile paste one Day 1; the spiced nut paste on Day 2, and the final mole construction on Day 3. 

There is enough work involved here that you really don’t want to make only enough for one meal.  Rather it is better to make extra and to put it up by either freezing or canning.  In that way you can almost instantly have mole enchiladas – or mole whatever – whenever you want.  We typically make a 2x batch and this is usually enough to last us for 12-18 months. 

There is no denying that this is a lot of work.  But if you’d like to experience a feeling of true wealth in your kitchen, you’ll get it from the glow of putting away two cases of this homemade vegan mole that will enrich your life for months to come.

One last word:  be sure to track down real Mexican chocolate, which is augmented with cinnamon and other sweet spices.  Typical baking chocolate will just not do. 

Makes 3 quarts. 

8 oz dry ancho chiles (approximately 16 peppers)
6 oz dry New Mexico chiles (approximately 20 peppers)
1/3 cup sesame seeds (1½ ounces)
1 teaspoon anise seed
3 bay leaves, crumbled
2 inch section of Mexican cinnamon (canela), crumbled, enough for 1½ teaspoons ground
1 teaspoon whole black pepper
1 teaspoon dry thyme leaf
heaping ½ teaspoon dry marjoram leaf
½ teaspoon dry whole cloves
1 avocado pit
2 slices rustic bed, dried
2 stale corn tortillas
2 cups canola oil
1/3 cup unskinned almonds
½ cup unskinned Spanish (Valencia) peanuts
1/3 cup hulled pumpkin seeds (pepitos)
1/3 cup raisins
1 medium white onion, peeled, halved, and sliced 
5 ounces tomatillos, husked, rinsed and cut into quarters
8 oz tomato, seeded and cut into quarters
7-8 cups stock, or more if you can't use the chile soaking liquid
1 scant cup (5 oz) Mexican chocolate, finely chopped
1-2 tablespoons salt, or to taste
1/3 cup sugar

De-stem and deseed the chiles, keeping the pods intact as much as possible, and opening each into a single flat piece.  Collect ¼ cup of the chile seeds.

Place the chile and sesame seeds into a hot skillet over medium-high heat. Shake and stir the seeds constantly until they begin to brown and release steam.  Do not let them scorch or you will need to repeat this step.  Remove from skillet and reserve.  Return skillet to the heat and add in the anise seed, bay leaves, cinnamon, black pepper, thyme, marjoram, and cloves.  Toast these spices and herbs as you did the seeds.  Remove from heat.  Place all the toasted ingredients together and grind through a spice mill over the course of multiple small batches.  Sift the ground material though a fine-mesh strainer, and return the coarse particles to the spice mill.  Continue until all has passed through the strainer.  Add 1 teaspoon finely grated avocado pit to the mixture and set aside. 





If not already dry, place the tortillas and bread into a 350° F oven until very crusty.

Set multiple layers of paper toweling across a large tray.  Heat the oil in a 8-9 inch heavy skillet or Dutch Oven over medium.  Fry the dry chiles a few at a time in the hot oil, turning constantly, until they toast and change color and release a spicy aroma – about 30 seconds per batch.  Be sure to not let the chiles burn – you'll notice an acrid smell if you do.  Remove fried chiles from the oil, drain, and place on the paper toweling.  Repeat until all the chiles have been fried.  Place the fried chiles into a large bowl and cover with hot water.  Allow to stand 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure all the chiles have fully rehydrated.  Drain, reserving the soaking water if it is not too bitter. 



While the chiles are soaking, return the skillet to medium heat.  Once the oil is hot, fry the almonds, peanuts, and then the pumpkin seeds one at a time until thoroughly toasted.  This should take about 1 minute for the almonds and slightly less time for the peanuts and pumpkin seeds.  Be sure to not scorch the nuts.  Also, be sure to cover the skillet when frying the pumpkin seeds, as they will pop out of the pan and make a huge mess of your range top. Remove each batch of nuts from the oil with a slotted spoon or equivalent, drain, and place on the paper toweling used for the chiles.  Next fry the raisins until they puff and brown slightly, no more than 30 seconds.  Remove from oil, drain, and place on the paper toweling.  Again, be sure to not let the raisins burn.  Fry the dry bread and tortillas until golden, and drain on the paper toweling.  Add together the roasted nuts, raisins, bread, tortillas, and ground spices into a single bowl.


Pour enough remaining oil through a fine mesh strainer into a large heavy pot or Dutch Oven to coat the bottom.  Return to medium heat and add the prepared onion and garlic.  Sauté, stirring frequently, until the onions have caramelized, about 10-15 minutes.  Remove to the bowl containing the toasted nuts and ground spices.  Add a little more strained oil to the pot and return to medium heat.  Add the tomatoes and tomatillos and cook until soft and browned, about 15 minutes.   Remove from heat and add as well to the bowl with the cooked onions, toasted nuts and ground spices. 





Place 1/3 of the soaked chiles into a blender with ½ cup of the reserved soaking liquid – or if this had to be discarded from bitterness, ½ cup of stock.  Process to a smooth puree.  Run through a food mill, retaining the chile paste and discarding the retained skins.  Repeat until all the chiles have been processed. 


Repeat this process with the toasted nut / ground spice / onion / tomato mixture, using the stock and keeping separate in a different bowl the paste that passes through the food mill.  Return any retained material from the food mill into the blender, and continue processing until all has been turned into a smooth puree. 


You now have two purees that will be combined and fried to make the finished mole.  Coat the bottom of the large pot with strained oil and return to medium-high heat.  When hot, add in the chile puree, and stir fry, stirring constantly, until it has reduced to a thick paste and has darkened, about 10-15 minutes.  Now add in the nut / onion / tomato / spice puree, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook – stirring frequently – until the mixture is reduced to a thick paste, about 30 minutes.  You'll want to watch this closely as the paste will blurp out of the pot as it reduces; we've had to clean splotches off the ceiling.  But as long as you keep stirring the mixture and not run the heat too high this will not be much of a problem.

Now add in 4 cups of the remaining stock along with the chocolate, partially cover, and simmer over medium-low heat for 45 minutes.  Adjust seasoning with salt and sugar, remembering that the sauce should be slightly sweet. 

The mole can be used immediately, frozen in 1 cup units, or pressure canned for as for low acid foods.






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Tomatillo-Avocado Soup


This incredible and simple cool summer vegan soup was inspired by a recipe found in the 1996 Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen.  You start by making a tomatillo and fresh onion salsa, and then puree it with ripe avocado, lime juice, and stock.  It holds beautifully in the refrigerator, and tastes even better the second day.   

1 pound tomatillos, husked and washed
5 serrano chiles, seeded, roasted, and minced
8 cloves garlic, roasted and peeled
1 small white onion, minced
¾ cup cilantro, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
3 cups ripe avocado
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 cups stock

Place tomatillos on a baking sheet and broil for 10-15 minutes, turning occasionally, until they are soft with a charred surface.  Or, roast on a grill.  Let cool.  Chop fine and place in a bowl.

Place roasted tomatillos and their juice with 2 cloves roasted garlic and the roasted chiles in a blender or food processor.  Process to a coarse puree.  Transfer to a bowl, and mix in the onion, ¼ cup of cilantro, salt and sugar. 

Place avocados, lime juice, stock, ½ of the tomatillo sauce and the remaining cilantro into a blender or food processor.  Process to a smooth puree.  Serve cool with a dollop of tomatillo sauce on top. 





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Tomatillo Salsa


Salsas need not be tomato based.  In Mexico it is common for tomatillos to be used instead.  The following, adapted from a recipe presented in Cheryl Alters and Bill Jamison’s 1995 The Border Cookbook makes a wonderful, spicy vegan salsa that will make a great addition to your next Mexican dinner.  Note that we’re using canned chipotle chiles in adobo; while it is theoretically possible to grow your own jalapenos, smoke them, and then can them in adobo sauce, in this case its just as easy to pick up a small can at your local Hispanic market. 

1 pound tomatillos, husked and washed
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 small red onion, minced
½ cup cilantro, minced
2 chipotle chiles (canned with adobo), minced
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
½ teaspoon salt

Place tomatillos on a baking sheet and broil for 10-15 minutes, turning occasionally, until they are soft with a charred surface.  Or, roast on a grill.  Let cool.  Chop fine and place in a bowl.

Heat oil in a small skillet and sauté onion until just soft.   Transfer onions to the bowl with the tomatillos.  Stir in the remaining ingredients.  Let rest a half hour before serving to allow the flavors to meld.