Every time I think about this salsa, I think about the time I made it at my family reunion. Which is weird, because this is my workhorse salsa — I make it all the time, in huge batches, so we always have at least some in the fridge or freezer. Each batch is a little different, sure, but it’s a consistent mix of spicy jalapenos perking up a tangy base speckled with cilantro (and particularly delish this time of year when tomatillos pop up in farmers’ markets). So given the consistency of the recipe and the fact that we have it all the time (holla atcha taco night), it’s weird that I think about just this one occasion basically every time I think about this salsa.
A few summers ago, I went down to Texas for my family reunion at the beach and my Aunt Karen had rented us a sick beach house. It had, like, a bajillion bedrooms and a giant living room-kitchen area with a giant table. One night the all the cousins stayed up super late and played an epic game of The Floor Is Lava, and kept all the parents awake downstairs by scraping the furniture all around the hardwood floors. (When I say all the cousins, I mean just our youngest Cuz played the game while the rest of us
raged intermittently slept sitting up while pretending to be younger/more hip than we actually are). The house was close to, but not quite on, the beach — just close enough to get a powerful cross-breeze on the upstairs porch, but not so close that we didn’t burn the bottoms of our feet walking on the sand from the house to the water. Texas beaches are constantly windy — which people think is terrible, until the wind suddenly stops in the middle of the summer and you are left with unmitigated heat and humidity, then everyone’s all like, “Where’s the wind? Let’s get a Whataburger.” (What? Just me?)
Anyway, on that trip I made a giant batch of green salsa for the fam and one morning we were chowin’ down on scrambled eggs with salsa on the porch, when a gust of wind gently carried my cousin Brittany’s plate away from her. The plate floated — again, gently — on the wind and then slowly settled upon my grandmother’s face. Just kidding, a gust picked up, Brittany’s plate popped up unexpectedly, and — before anyone could blink — the plate smacked my grandmother, Ninny, like a pie-in-the-face.
Only there wasn’t pie on her face, there was green salsa. And Ninny is not one of those crotchedly old women who deserves a salsa-in-the-face. She’s literally the sweetest person in the world, which somehow made the whole thing even funnier. I think her first response was something along the lines of, “Oh dear!” And then she used her finger like a little windshield wiper to clean the salsa off her glasses.
So even though this salsa is great with just about everything, it’s extra special for me because — even though it’s properly fall in New York and the leaves are starting to turn and the air has turned crisp and gotten a bite that says winter is coming — it can always take me back to that porch, in the heat and humidity of my home, laughing and surrounded by the people I love, at least one of whom was covered in salsa.
- 1 lb. tomatillos
- 1 avocado
- Juice and zest of 2 limes
- ½ bunch cilantro
- 2 cloves of garlic
- ½ white onion
- ¼ c. olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Blend everything together in a blender until smooth, and adjust salt, pepper and lime to taste. Serve with tortilla chips. Or atop a breakfast taco. Or in chilaquiles. Really, guys, just anywhere you'd usually use store-bought salsa!