As Hurricane Sandy approached, I foraged in my garden to see what was there that I could save from torrential rains and gale-force winds. Here’s my bounty of zinnias, dahlias, roses, bell and jalapeno peppers, a few vagrant potatoes, cherry tomatoes and tomatillos. (The dried green beans and black eye peas will be used as seeds for next year’s garden).

I confess that I didn’t grow up eating Mexican dishes and don’t eat it now too often. But when I found tomatillo seeds at the garden center, I grabbed a pack as I always like to try new things in the garden. Since there were so very few seeds, I put some potting soil in a tray, sprinkled in the seeds and wondered if any seedlings would even make it.

The seedlings took a while to get going, but once they took off I planted them when they were about 4″ high in the spot where I’d just pulled up the lettuce that went to seed in June. I really just forgot about them, to be honest. The plants kept getting bigger and bigger, but no fruit appeared all summer. However, I noticed beautiful little green lantern-like pods on the lush plants in late September, long after I’d given up on them. With Hurricane Sandy approaching I picked the tomatillos today, then set about figuring out what to do with them.

Believe it or not, I’ve never even tasted salsa verde and had no idea if I’d even like it. But in searching for recipes on how to use my tomatillos, I settled on the  Roasted Tomatillo & Green Olive Salsa recipe I found at

As instructed, I peeled the husks off of the fruit and washed off the sticky residue from the fruits. I drizzled some olive oil on a pizza pan that was already in the dish drainer rather than taking the extra 3 seconds to dig out a baking sheet. I added my tomatillos, some elephant garlic and a couple of jalapeno peppers and popped them in a 475 degree oven for 15 minutes or so until the tomatillos were a little brown and blistered. While they were roasting, I mixed chopped green olives, cilantro, lime juice, sugar and salt in a bowl.  I then added the roasted veggies to the bowl and pureed them with my immersion blender.

I have to admit that soupy green stuff looks yucky to me, but it was absolutely delicious! My plan had been to serve it up with some tortilla chips as a side to the chili that I also cooked up (using tomatoes I canned in the summer and some peppers I picked today, but I put a couple of dollops right on top of my bowl of chili along with some shredded cheddar and sour cream. Muy bueno on a windy, rainy autumn evening! Here’s the recipe:

Roasted Tomatillo and Green Olive Salsa
makes 1 1/2 cups

1 1/2 pounds tomatillos, husked
6 garlic cloves
2 jalapeno peppers
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup green olives
1 cup cilantro
1 lime, juiced
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup water
* substitute 1 serrano pepper for the jalapeno peppers if you like more heat

1. Heat oven to 475 degrees. Spread tomatillos, garlic cloves and jalapeno on baking sheet and coat evenly with oil. Roast for 15 minutes or until tomatillos are browned and blistered.
2. Remove from oven and place in a food processor or blender with olives, cilantro, lime and sugar. Pulse 5-7 times. Add water and pulse another 4-5 times to mix.
*I skipped having to wash a blender or food processor by using my immersion blender.
3. Place in bowl and serve with chips or as a topping on eggs, chicken or meat.