Welcome to the month of June! It happens to be a fantastic month in case you didn’t know. There are several wedding anniversaries, it was always the end of school and best of all- my birthday. Hurray! Other great things about June: kick off of Summer Movie Season (can’t wait for X-men First Class!!!!), pools open, gardens are in full swing and the weather here gets nice. Granted the A/C may need to run, but most days it’s just super nice.
This month also means something else for me. I’m starting a new eating plan to get healthier and so far it’s frustrating. Eliminating salt, oil, butter and nearly all dairy really hampers my cooking. But I am determined to stay the course as much as possible. I don’t want boring gross food though, so I’ll find a way to make it tasty, fun, easy and good. Will it be difficult? Most likely yes. Quite frankly cheese has always been one of those ultimate comfort foods for me and cutting it out is throwing me out of my comfort zone. Even so, I’m approaching this as a challenge, a test of will to expand my horizons and find new ways of cooking. =)
The plan I’m following suggests lots of fish of which I’m definitely not a fan. Then again, it’s fair to say I’ve never really given it a chance. Where I am currently doesn’t have good fresh seafood so canned tuna it is. I tried out some tuna on cucumber slices with mustard or red wine vinegar and it’s pretty tasty; at least, good enough that I didn’t mind the tuna.
The best part about this plan is all the fresh fruit I have to eat. Strawberries, raspberries, peaches and pineapple galore! I even finally bought a blender to make smoothies and such. Nothing beats a fresh fruit smoothie, I dug out my frozen peaches which will finally be put to use!
However, the first big thing I made with my blender was green salsa. Since salsa is just vegetables thrown together it’s a perfect seasoning to provide some deviation from spices alone. Red salsa is good and I’ll be making some later but since the first time I tried green salsa, I fell in love. It’s tangy, smoky and has this irresistible pop. Instead of being made with tomatoes, it’s made with tomatillos. They look similar to tomatoes but they come with a husk and have lots more seeds. Depending on the season and grower, they vary in size from medium tomato size to small apricot (or smaller!).
After much searching, I settled on trying a recipe from makesandtakes.com that didn’t require salt. Even without salt, the green salsa turned out amazing. I’m totally baking chicken with it tonight and likely with some egg whites tomorrow. Tangy awesome sauce should be its alternative name.
(adapted from makesandtakes.com)
10-12 tomatillos (depending on size)
3-4 serrano chiles (depending on how hot you want it)
1 medium white or yellow onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
juice of 1 lime
1/2-1 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped (measure before chopping)
salt, to taste (you may not need any)
a few tablespoons of canola oil
Remove the husks from the tomatillos and rinse them well to get rid of the sticky residue. Turn on your oven’s broiler, arrange tomatillos in a baking dish (it will catch run off juices) and place under broiler until they turn olive in color and have some blackened blisters. It took mine about 10 to 15 minutes under the broiler. Alternatively you can get canned tomatillos, it’ll take 2 cans in that case.
Heat the skillet you’ll use to cook the onions but do not add oil or onions yet. Once hot place Serrano chiles in the skillet until the skin blisters, turn and repeat for the other side. Remove them and let them cool off a bit. Add a wee bit of oil into the pan and cook onions until soft. Add in garlic and continue cooking until everything is beautifully browned.
While the onions cook, chop off the tops of the chiles then cut them in half length-wise. Take out the seeds unless you want it really hot. Place de-seeded chiles into blender or food processor. When the tomatillos are done, add them to the blender as well. Pulse until everything is roughly chopped together.
Add onions once they are finished cooking. Pulse until everything is well mixed and very soupy. Wipe out your skillet used for the onions, add a tad more oil and heat to medium-high heat. Wait until the pan is nice and hot before pouring the entire puree into it. The salsa puree is going to get a bit darker and thicken up, it may take a few minutes so be patient.
Once thickened, add in the chicken broth and continue to let it cook. It should come to a simmer and hold there until it thickens back up. It should nicely coat the spoon when it’s done.
Before serving, add some chopped cilantro and some lime juice to your liking. This stuff freezes very well and will keep in the fridge for a bit too.
It takes some time but the result is awesome. The green salsa goes great on enchiladas, nachos, chicken, pork, or great as salsa with chips! Hopefully yummy sauces like this will make my new eating plan easy to keep following!
More experimental recipes to come!