Taquería-Style Creamy Avocado Salsa
Add this to the list of recipes filed under: WHY did it take us so long to try making this?!
There are many reasons we frequent some of the taco shops in Santa Barbara. Hunger, convenience, Groupons, entertaining visitors from out of town… And, aside from all of the obvious ones, Paula gets to eat carne asada (which I don’t eat), and I get to eat rajas con queso (melty cheese over grilled onions and peppers) and pico de gallo (both of which she doesn’t eat, because: onions).
But really the salsas rank right up there for THE reason to go out for Mexican food. If it weren’t for those tempting salad-bar-style salsa bars with their rainbow of assorted roasted, charred, blended, spicy, medium, mild, red, green, smoky, tangy, fresh-diced salsas, then we could just make ourselves the same Mexican dishes at home!
In fact, sometimes Paula gets a take-out burrito from a lunch place near her work just so she can snag a few extra little plastic containers of taco-shop salsa, which we then use to drench our homemade frozen tamales at dinner time.
We agree on two favorites — a liquidy red salsa that’s spicy, peppery, and so brightly colored it’s almost orange (perfect on tamales), and this one: a thicker, creamy, fruity, tomatillo-based avocado salsa verde with just a little hint of spice. (Perfect on tacos, with chips, and — when the chips have all disappeared — I like to eat it with a spoon.)
Paula judges Mexican restaurants by their pre-meal chips-and-salsa offerings.
When she first moved up to Santa Barbara from the San Fernando valley, she avoided the Mexican restaurants here (for over a year, until she met me!), thinking that they wouldn’t be quite as good. And she was probably right.
Can you imagine that? A move 90 miles north from Southern California to the Central Coast, and you get a noticeable drop in taco quality. I don’t think Southern California natives fully appreciate how much MORE the taco quality can drop once you get, say, 2,000 miles away from either Mexico or California (e.g., Wisconsin).
Despite her doubts, we’ve gradually amassed a collection of favorite taquerías in town. Places where the salsas pass muster.
And the best ones offer a salad bar array of salsas with mini plastic molcajetes or plastic cups. If you bring a group of friends along, then you can feel a little more justified and a little less greedy in scooping up at least a sample of each to bring back to your table to try.
Not too hardcore habañero-level spicy, this type of tomatillo-based creamy avocado salsa is usually a crowd favorite. And like I said, I CANNOT BELIEVE we had never tried making it before.
For one thing, it’s really not all that different from Paula’s go-to roasted tomatillo salsa. It just has fewer tomatillos, serrano instead of jalapeño, and a ripe avocado for some extra creamy greenness.
And compared to almost everything else on our long, dreamy list of “salsas to make,” it’s a very simple recipe. There’s no frying or soaking of dried chili peppers, no charring of tomatoes (just some hands-off oven roasting), and no meticulous grinding by hand — this recipe works beautifully in the blender.
We whipped it up this weekend and I swooned over the first bite. And (after we got mad at ourselves for not trying it sooner) this recipe became an instant favorite.
One more salsa recipe down, many, many more to go.
Print this recipe. (PDF)
Taquería-Style Creamy Avocado Salsa
(Makes about 3 cups)
Active time: 15 minutes; Total time: 35 minutes.
~ 10 tomatillos, de-husked and rinsed well (buy a few extras, since it’s hard to tell if some are bad)
~ 2 cloves garlic, peeled
~ 2 serrano peppers (keep seeds in for more spice; remove some/all of them for a milder salsa)
~ ¼ onion
~ ¼ bunch cilantro (leaves and stems)
~ 1 large, ripe avocado
~ ½ tsp. salt
~ juice of ½ lime
Special equipment needed:
~ blender or food processor
How to make it:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove the husks of the tomatillos and rinse under cold water, rubbing them gently with your fingers to remove the sticky coating.
2. Place the rinsed tomatillos face-down on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Add the garlic, serranos (stems removed), and the onion to the baking sheet and roast for 20-25 minutes or until the tomatillos have changed color from a bright green to a pale yellow-ish green. (Check on the garlic and serranos before this and remove them from the oven if they’re getting too browned.)
3. Let the roasted ingredients cool slightly, then add the garlic, serranos, and onion to the blender, along with two or three of the tomatillos. Pulse until all ingredients are well blended, then add the cilantro, half of the avocado, and the rest of the tomatillos, and blend well. Finally, blend in the second half of the avocado, along with the salt and fresh lime juice.
4. Taste and increase amounts of salt and/or lime juice if desired. (You could even blend in an extra half/whole avocado for a thicker, creamier, milder salsa.) For a thinner salsa — which could also be used as a salad dressing — blend in up to a few spoonfuls of cold water at the end. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the fridge. Serve over tacos or with chips. Best within the first few days.
Print this recipe! (PDF)
Related recipe posts:
|Chilaquiles Verdes and Roasted Tomatillo Salsa||Crema de Aguacate (Mexican Avocado Soup)||Avocado Chicken Tacos||Squash Blossom Quesadillas with Saffron Tomato Salsa|