Suzi's Blog

Cooked Tomatillo Salsa

“Make this,” Brian asked. “Please,” he added.

I didn’t care about the magic word. I had looked at the recipe and was skeptical. He was insistent.

I relented, and we made this salsa from James Peterson’s Sauces. I must say it is hot: both temperature wise and chili wise. Brian loves it and I find it good, and certainly different from anything I have ever attempted. I have used Sauces many times, and I think of it as reference for all those French concepts of intense flavor based on meat, poultry, fish, or veggies. I was surprised to find this blazing gem in the book, and Brian seized on it like a brownie.

This is a cooked salsa. Cooked in a pan. Cooked with the cilantro. It’s unlike anything we’ve ever tried. The recipe calls for 2 small hot peppers. That’s a key point. Use no more than two peppers and do make them small. Two jalapenos are ideal. Still, our mouths were on fire.

This tomatillo salsa is cooked with raw, chopped tomatillos put into a pan already containing sweated onion, garlic and peppers. The chopped tomatillos are added and immediately begin to reduce in size as they exude their liquid. The volume of the final salsa is half what you start with.

And, you’ll love this, as you finish this salsa off, you can add a few tablespoons of heavy cream to mellow the heat and create a smoother salsa. This is certainly the only salsa I ever made with heavy cream!

We ate a bowl of this along with a bowl of sweet, cool guacamole. I must say it was fun to dip into one bowl and then the other. Hot salsa in one bowl, chilly avocado in another. The contrast was striking. The beer was a necessity.

Brian is out looking for more tomatillos.

Cooked Tomatillo Salsa

Yield: serves 4


  • 1 pound fresh or canned tomatillos
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely diced
  • 2 small hot peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons chopped cilantro


If using fresh tomatillos, remove the papery sheath from the outside. I using canned, drain them. Chop the tomatillos in pieces the size of the tip of your index finger.

Sweat the onion, garlic and the hot peppers in the olive oil for 10 minutes, taking care not to burn them.

Add the chopped tomatillos and stew the mixture until the are completely soft. Stir occasionally.

Add the chopped cilantro and cook for 2 to 3 minutes

For a smoother sauce, add 3-4 tablespoons of heavy cream before adding the cilantro.

Source: Sauces by James Peterson 

Shrimp Tomatillo Cocktail


It’s hard to pass up a cold shrimp. Or three or four. This “appetizer” is one that can serve you well multiple ways. As suggested, you can make it an elegant cocktail appetizer, nestling the shrimp and sauce in a shot glass to let the red and green colors sparkle for your guests.

Or, you can present the shrimp on a bed of greens, or even rice, and then adorn with the sauce. You then have the main course centerpiece for a lovely brunch or dinner. If you go that main course route, you’ll want to add another pound of shrimp to serve 8.

The shrimp taste, surprisingly, like shrimp. The sauce makes the dish. It’s a great combination of flavors with tomatillo accented with more heat from horseradish yet mellowed with honey. You tongue will be working overtime to figure it all out. That exactly makes for an interesting dish!

The Gulf oil spill is winding down. Those hardy Gulf fishermen are back in their boats. It’s time to put the shrimp back on our tables.

Shrimp-Tomatillo Cocktail

Yield: 6 to 8 Servings


For the Shrimp:

  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
  • 2 lemons, quartered
  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined

For the Sauce:

  • 12 tomatillos, husked and rinsed
  • 1 large red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 jalapeño peppers
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 3 tablespoon horseradish, drained
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Prepare the shrimp. Combine 8 cups cold water, 2 tablespoons salt, the coriander and peppercorn in a large saucepan. Squeeze in the lemon juice and add the wedges. Boil 5 minutes, then remove from the heat, add the shrimp, cover and set aside, about 15 minutes. Strain and transfer the shrimp to a bowl; cover, and chill at least 1 hour.

Meanwhile, make the sauce: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the tomatillos, onion, garlic and jalapeños in a roasting pan. Toss with the canola oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast until soft, tossing occasionally 25 to 35 minutes.

Cook the spinach in a saucepan of boiling water, about 1 minute. Drain, squeeze dry and transfer to a food processor. Add the tomatillo mixture, vinegar, horseradish, cilantro and honey and pulse until smooth; season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl, cover and chill at least 1 hour. Bring to room temperature 15 minutes before serving.

Serve the sauce and shrimp in shot glasses, if desired.

Source: Food Network Magazine