Salsa Verde with Local Tomatillos
Story and photos by Aaron Lynch, Chef-Owner, Hidden Julles Cafe
As the chef-owner of Hidden Julles Cafe in Haymarket, I often find myself sharing the stories of where my recipes come from with guests that come into the cafe. I think it gives a better experience to the meal, and hopefully inspires people to think outside the normal constraints that we are all used to.
When I first opened Hidden Julles Cafe, I adopted a slogan that I still follow: “Local, Organic, Natural.”
This slogan came from talking to other restaurateurs. I learned that most of the time, processed and compromising products were being used. My passion for Hidden Julles and our recipes quickly became two-fold, to help support our local community and to use only the best ingredients. I asked myself, “What products would I feed to my own children?” The answer is in the fact that we use local organic products as much as possible, and when local is not available we use organic and natural (non GMO, no pesticides, no antibiotics) products from trusted distributors.
Hidden Julles Cafe is named after my mom, Julie Ann Stevens Lynch. She was an amazing influence on so many lives and is the driving force that keeps us grounded in the products we use. She loved avocado oil and Himalayan pink salt. A few years ago I had a baker ask me, “Where is your salt?” I pointed to the Himalayan pink salt. She responded, “No, your white salt.” I smiled and said, “Himalayan pink salt is all we use.” A few moments later she asked, “Where is your oil?” I pointed to the bottle of avocado oil. She said, “No, your vegetable oil.” I smiled again and said, “Avocado and olive oil is all we use.” I then proceeded to tell her about my mom and where our core products came from. Her response? “Wow, I’m going to like it here!”
We are excited to share the origin of our recipes with you in the hope that you’ll be inspired to create these goodies in your home kitchen. We encourage you to experiment, fail – as we’ve done many times! – and grow in your kitchen. Also, please feel free to make this recipe and all the recipes we share in future issues of Lifestyle your own. My hope is that you’ll create your own origin of recipes. And remember: food creation should be inventive, interactive, messy, and yummy!
Hidden Julles Cafe renowned, yet simple-to-make Salsa Verde with local Tomatillos
Following is the recipe we use everyday at Hidden Julles Cafe. Feel free to try your own variation in your kitchen!
- 2 lbs tomatillos
- 3 whole, peeled cloves of garlic
- 1 jalapeño
- 1 medium sized red onion
- 1 bunch of cilantro
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil
- Himalayan pink salt, to taste
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees
- Husk, wash the tomatillos, and cut in half
- Put tomatillos in a deep baking dish
- Throw the garlic in the baking dish
- Cut the stem off the jalapeño, then cut it long ways and toss it in the baking dish. Note: If you’d like it less spicy, deseed the jalapeño first.
- Roast for 30-45 min until the mixture is slightly browned
- While roasting, dice the onion
- In a skillet on medium-high heat, sauté the onion in the oil until it’s translucent
- Cool both the tomatillo mixture and the onions until they reach room temperature
- In a big mixing bowl or blender, blend the tomatillo mixture with the onions and cilantro
- Enjoy your Salsa Verde!
Origin of this recipe: After tasting a delicious premade, jarred organic salsa verde, I knew a local and fresh alternative would taste even better. Unfortunately, I quickly learned from talking to local farmers that tomatillos are not usually grown in this area. Tomatillos are the green tomatoes with the husks on them. My guess is that the husks confuse and intimidate us in the kitchen. I’m here to tell you, don’t be afraid of those paper-thin husks. To convince local farmers to grow organic tomatillos, I established relationships with them by literally buying everything they had when they asked me what produce I needed. The result? They grew so many tomatillos I had an overabundance to experiment with.
Local farms Hidden Julles loves: Messick’s Farm, Bealeton, Brightberry Farms, The Plains, and Green Wizard Farms, Haymarket.