Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tangy Salsa

One of the things I love about St. Louis is how incredibly lush and green this city is and how accessible the parks are. For instance, you drive onto a busy road lined with every big box store you can think of, bustling with malls and car dealerships and your usual urban chaos. Then you turn into a side street and exactly 5 minutes later you are in Castlewood state park which looks like this.

The forecast predicted rain and gloom this weekend but instead we were treated to two days of sparkling sunshine and cool breezes. We grabbed the opportunity and went hiking on Sunday morning.

Dale is a champion hiker- even with his old bones, he loves scrambling up paths and exploring new trails.

Living in St. Louis has been a good lesson in the fickleness of weather. The weekend did not end well for the town of Joplin diagonally across the state from us. On Sunday evening the enchanted Spring weekend gave way to angry storms and a tornado landed there causing deaths and destruction.

The story repeated itself yesterday. Monday morning was as bright and sunny a Spring day as one could hope for. Then around lunchtime, in the matter of minutes, the sky darkened to an angry shade of grey and the high winds swayed my office building until I ran into the stairwell wondering if this was an earthquake or tornado. It was only a severe thunderstorm that lashed and raged for a good hour, then moved on, leaving us sunny and dry again as though nothing had ever happened.

We've learned to make hay while the sun shines, so to speak. When the weather is nice, we immediately open up the doors and windows and eat meals on the patio and go on walks and hikes because you never know when the next storm will hit.

As the weather warms, I tend to cook simpler recipes and we often end up dining on appetizers. I borrowed one of Rick Bayless' excellent Mexican cookbooks from the library and discovered that I had all the ingredients that were needed to make this simple and flavorful salsa. This cookbook is full of wonderful essays about regional Mexican cuisines.

When recipes call for minced or chopped green chillies, I often substitute with bottled green chili chutney for convenience and that's what I did in this recipe.

Guacamole with Tomatillos
(Adapted from Authentic Mexican by Rick Bayless; makes about 2 cups)

  1. Remove the husks from about 5 medium tomatillos and wash them. Quarter the tomatillos, place them in a saucepan, barely cover them with water, add salt and boil the tomatillos until barely tender. 
  2. Drain the water and place the cooked tomatillos in a food processor, along with a handful of coarsely chopped cilantro, 12 small onion (roughly chopped) and 2 tsp. green chili chutney.
  3. Process the mixture to a coarse puree. 
  4. In a bowl, mash 1 ripe avocado with a fork. Add the tomatillo puree and salt to taste. Mix well and serve with tortilla chips. 
See you in a couple of days! 


  1. I've been watching the destruction in Joplin and it makes my stomach churn looking at the pics.. In just a few minutes life for the whole town is turned upside down (and every which way possible).. very sad..
    Happy to hear that St Louis was safe.
    Salsa looks fresh and yumm.

  2. I love tomatillos! My friend makes this amazing sauce that goes really well with tacos. I will definitely share this with her and give it a shot. As for the weather, its been quite weird this season. I live in the desert and it is so green. I am not complaining but obviously something is wrong if were are receiving flood warnings in Utah. Glad to hear that you guys are safe, Joplin is obviously a sad occurrence.

  3. It is really sad to hear of all the destruction that these tornadoes are causing. This spring seems to have more than its fair share. Glad to hear you are safe Nupur.

    Rick Bayless' shows on PBS are a delight. Most of his recipes seem simple and very easy to cook. But what I adore most is his beautiful back yard vegetable garden which makes its appearance in most shows.

  4. Hey, that is new. Love the idea of guacamole with tomatillos. I have some at home :)

  5. Adding tomatillos sounds super interesting and yumm,mouthwatering here..

  6. It has been unseasonally cold and rainy everywhere. The pictures of tornado distruction are disturbing. Hope you guys keep safe and get more of those sunny days!
    I recently tried avocado-tomatillo salsa made by a colleague. Loved the combination. This recipe looks super simple and worth a shot!

  7. Hi Nupur!

    Wonderful pics of Castlewood SP. We went hiking there once with the dogs. They got very interested in the deer :) I recently found a copy of this book at Goodwill. Yet to try any of the recipes. The guacamole looks so refreshing and delish! Hope things are going well for you.


  8. Such a lovely park you have nearby, Nupur! Glad the worst of the storms have missed you -- it's so tragic at Joplin one can hardly bear to see the news.

    "Make hay while the sun shines" is an old homesteading truth, always enjoyed that. The guacamole with tomatillos looks like the perfect sunny-day treat :)

  9. I agree with about St. Louis… when I was in St. Louis used to visit wineries in Augusta often in summer. I use to love taking nature walk and enjoy nice crisp wine and live music on deck…

    And I have never made guacamole with tomatillos… love guacamole and this is a great variation…


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