Salsa Verde

by Cat, May 2008

I’m not ‘big’ on Mexican food – something about the combination of spices that I don’t care for (although I like the same spices in different combinations, as in Asian and Middle Eastern foods). But I do like a good salsa, with Pico de Gallo being my favorite. And I love tomatillos, which are related to tomatoes but have a distinctly different flavor.

I prefer to lacto-ferment the salsa rather than cooking it, not only to preserve it, but also because it is rich in probiotics so important for health. Both versions are included here, as well as a pesto-style salsa.

Salsa Verde

This recipe is adapted from Fine (1); I’ve also halved the recipe because I don’t use a lot of salsa. Tomatillos are related to the tomato and resemble them, but they have a papery husk that is removed before using the fruit. I prefer the purple tomatillos for flavor, but you want green ones for this recipe.

Store in a covered jar, in refrigerator.

Ingredients & Equipment:

  • ½ lb tomatillos (about 7 medium)
  • 1 -2 jalapeños (to taste)
  • ¼ large yellow onion
  • 2 – 3 Tbsp roughly chopped fresh cilantro, to taste
  • Unrefined sea salt
  • 1 ½ or 2-quart saucepan
  • blender


  1. Husk and rinse tomatillos
  2. Stem and halve jalapeños lengthwise; seed if desired
  3. Cut half onion into 2 wedges.
  4. Chop cilantro.
  5. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil; add tomatillos, jalapeños and onion wedges. Cover pot and simmer until veggies are tender, about 10 minutes.
  6. Drain well and transfer to a blender with cilantro. Puree until just slightly chunky; season to taste with salt.

Lacto-Fermented Salsa Verde

This version is based on ideas from Sustainable Eats blog (3); the amount of salt is per my friend Don B.

  1. Use the same ingredients as above; however, you will want to chop up (or puree in a blender) the veggies before fermenting. You can also add 2 Tbsp lemon or lime juice for flavor.
  2. This requires more salt, about 36 grams (1.75 oz or about 2 ½ Tbsp, but its best to weigh for accuracy) per quart of salsa.
  3. You can also add whey or other fermented liquid such as sauerkraut juice or kombucha tea, about 2 Tbsp per quart of salsa.
  4. Pour salsa into very clean jars, and cap tightly. Leave about 1″ between the salsa and the top of the jar to allow for expansion of the juices.
  5. Keep jars on your counter for 2 – 4 days.
  6. When ready, store in refrigerator or a cold root cellar.

Pesto-style Salsa Verde

This recipe is adapted from Fine (2), and makes about 1 cup.

You can use blanched almonds and roast them as per the original recipe, or you can first soak the almonds, then roast them. However, be aware that almonds grown in America, even Organic ones, have been ‘pasteurized’ by irradiation (Cat’s note: since I wrote this recipe, I’ve learned the irradiation is no longer mandatory, so that we can get Organic raw almonds again). If you cannot find almonds that have not been treated this way, try walnuts or pine nuts in this recipe.

Ingredients & Equipment:

  • ¼ cup almonds (raw if pre-soak, or blanched if not), or Crispy Pine Nuts
  • Unrefined sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • ½ cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • ½ cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 medium cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • ¼ tsp dried red chile flakes
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp white-wine vinegar
  • medium bowl and baking sheet for soaking and roasting nuts
  • 3 quart saucepan or stock pot
  • blender or food processor


  1. Two days before, pre-soak almonds, then roast them. See Pre-soaked, roasted nuts. If using blanched almonds, toast them on a pie pan in 400 F oven until lightly golden, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate and cool. If using pine nuts, see Crispy Pine Nuts for method.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then salt heavily (should taste like sea water). Add parsley and basil leaves and blanch 1 minutes. Drain and immediately transfer them to shock in an ice bath. When cooled, squeeze dry with your hands.
  3. Put nuts, blanched herbs, cilantro, garlic, chile flakes and 1/2 tsp salt with a few grinds of pepper in a blender or food processor. Select “Blend” and, while running, gradually pour olive oil into through the hole in the blender lid or into feed tube of processor, until mixture becomes a thick puree.
  4. if not using right away, store, covered, in refrigerator 1 day. A few hours before using, return salsa to room temperature.
  5. Just before serving, stir in vinegar to prevent discoloration.


  1. Fine (
  2. Fine (
  3. Sustainable Eats blog (
  4. Don B., Kalispell MT (lacto-fermentation expert)


About Cat

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