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Chilaquiles Verdes (and Tomatillo Salsa)

October 29, 2011

Chilaquiles Verdes with Roasted Tomatillo SalsaPin it!

First of all, I know that many of you are already thinking, “what are chilaquiles?” (Or the rest of you, who know about them, are already thinking, “mmmmm.”)

Roasted Tomatillo SalsaTortillas for Chilaquiles Verdes

Chilaquiles are torn or cut up corn tortillas, fried in oil till partially crispy, then cooked up with salsa, so that they just begin to soften again, then topped with cheese and—for the best breakfast ever—poached or fried eggs. And chilaquiles verdes are made with green tomatillo salsa, rather than red salsa or mole.
Chilaquiles Verdes with Roasted Tomatillo Salsa and Queso FrescoPin it!

I first fell for green chilaquiles at a small restaurant, and excellent brunch spot, in Madison, WI called Bon Appetit Cafe. Bon Appetit uses crispier chips, and generously tops their chilaquiles verdes with dollops of sour cream and crumbled queso fresco.

The version here—as made by my girlfriend from the recipe in her head—is a little less crispy but probably a little more healthy, and all the same flavors jump out at you when you take your first bite.*
Chilaquiles Verdes with Roasted Tomatillo SalsaChilaquiles Verdes with Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
Chilaquiles are one of my all-time favorite things to eat as a savory breakfast (second only to huevos rancheros, but only because those are easier to make). Not that chilaquiles are all that difficult either… the most elaborate part of this recipe is the homemade tomatillo salsa.

But I suppose if you’re really craving weekday-morning chilaquiles, you could prepare the whole dish a lot more quickly if you used a pre-made salsa instead. Or if, say, for your first batch of weekend chilaquiles you blended up enough homemade tomatillo salsa to stretch across a few batches of weekday ones.
Chilaquiles Verdes with Roasted Tomatillo Salsa and a Fried EggPin it!

Believe me, these things will keep you coming back for more. (And may even bring fans of sweet breakfasts over to the savory side.)

Crispy Tortillas for Chilaquiles Verdes

One more note about this chilaquiles recipe: this is it! The origin of the blog name “Spontaneous Tomato.” I almost always have fresh red tomatoes sitting out on my countertop, and my girlfriend once tossed one of those into the blender with the green tomatillos. We were making breakfast for my friend, Sarah, who had come to visit, and Sarah asked me what ingredients had gone into the salsa. I told her, “lots of tomatillos and one spontaneous tomato.”

Chilaquiles Verdes with Roasted Tomatillo Salsa, Queso Fresco, and a Fried Egg

* Actually, these particular (pictured) chilaquiles happen to be the ones my girlfriend made for me the weekend before I left on this trip to Korea and Japan, since we knew I’d be spending over a month in Japan: the land of no cilantro! (Or, more accurately, the land of difficult-and/or-impossible-to-find cilantro.) There are many wonderful flavors to be sampled in Japan, but typically—outside of Tokyo—cilantro isn’t one of them. Not to mention how difficult (and/or impossible) it is to find anything resembling Mexican queso fresco or soft corn tortillas here…

Tomatillos, Cilantro, and other ingredients for Chilaquiles Verdes


Tomatillo Salsa

(Makes enough to fill 3-4 small jars of salsa, or enough to make chilaquiles 3-4 times…)

~ 20-25 green tomatillos
~ 1-2 cloves of garlic
~ 1 jalapeño pepper
~ 1 large bunch of fresh cilantro
~ ⅓ of a white or yellow onion, roughly chopped
~ salt and pepper, to taste
~ 1 spontaneous tomato

De-husked Tomatillos

How to make it:

EDIT: The recipe below suggests boiling the tomatillos, but we have since modified the way that tomatillo salsa is made around here: Roasting all the ingredients in the oven is easier and tastier!

Roasted Tomatillos, Onion, Jalapeño, and Garlic

Skip the boiling and just roast everything (except cilantro)
for 15-20 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

Here is the alternate version of this recipe, in PDF form: Roasted Tomatillo Salsa.

1. Remove the papery husks from the tomatillos, and rinse them well (they will probably feel pretty slimy, so you’ll want to wash your hands again afterwards). Add the de-husked tomatillos to a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Then simmer, uncovered, until most of the tomatillos have mostly changed color, from brighter green, to a darker brownish-yellowy shade (about 20 minutes). You can use a spoon to try to flip some of the tomatillos over while they’re boiling, but many of them will just flip themselves right back up in the water; don’t worry about it too much.

Tomatillos in their husksBoiling tomatillos

2. Meanwhile, place the garlic clove(s) and the jalapeño pepper in a small pan, and slowly brown them on all sides over medium-high heat. (You might want to open a window and turn on the fan over the stove, since the air will get spicy!) Once they are browned, remove the jalapeño and garlic from the pan, and carefully cut open the jalapeño to remove most or all of the seeds (the part that would make your salsa super spicy).

Charred Jalapeño and GarlicTomatillos change to a yellowish-green when cooked

3. Once almost all of the tomatillos have changed color, and they are soft, drain them in a colander. Some of them might be heavy with liquid inside, while others will be lighter. You can puncture the heavy ones with a knife to drain them a bit if you want a thicker salsa, or just throw them all in a food processor, as is.

Tomatillo Salsa

4. In small batches, add the following to the food processor: boiled tomatillos, de-seeded browned jalapeño, browned garlic clove(s), cilantro, and onion. Blend all ingredients together until you have a liquidy green salsa. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Print this recipe (Tomatillo Salsa)!
EDIT: Or print an easier version of this recipe: Roasted Tomatillo Salsa.

Chilaquiles Verdes with Roasted Tomatillo Salsa and a Fried Egg

Chilaquiles Verdes

~ small corn tortillas (about 4-5 per person)
~ ¼ cup olive oil (for frying 12-15 tortillas)
~ 1 small/medium size jar of salsa, or use about ⅓ of the tomatillo salsa recipe above
~ 1-2 eggs per person, poached or fried
~ 1-2 Tbsp. of queso fresco per person, to top the chilaquiles
~ refried beans (on the side)
~ sour cream (as a topping)
~ cilantro to garnish

How to make it:

1. Cut or tear up the corn tortillas (I think 4-5 per person is about right, but then again, leftovers are always nice, too).

Tortillas for Chilaquiles VerdesCrispy Tortillas for Chilaquiles Verdes

2. In a large pan or pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high, then add the tortillas and fry them, turning them every once in a while, until most of them have gotten at least a little crispy or browned.

Chilaquiles Verdes with Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

3. Pour some of the salsa over the tortillas (enough to at least coat each of them), then lower the heat a bit, and stir the fried tortillas and salsa together to cook for another 2-3 minutes.

4. Serve the chilaquiles topped with crumbled cheese (like queso fresco) and a poached or fried egg. Optionally serve with a side of refried beans, a dollop of sour cream, or a few fresh chopped sprigs of cilantro as a garnish.

Print this recipe (Chilaquiles Verdes)!
Print both recipes (Chilaquiles Verdes and Roasted Tomatillo Salsa)!

Chilaquiles Verdes with Roasted Tomatillo Salsa, Queso Fresco, and a Fried EggPin it!

Chilaquiles Verdes with Roasted Tomatillo Salsa, Queso Fresco, and a Fried EggPin it!

Related recipe posts:
> Huevos Rancheros
> Layered Chicken Enchiladas with Spanish Rice

36 Comments leave one →
  1. October 29, 2011 10:15 pm

    I’ll make this for you when you come back from Japan too. <3

  2. August 23, 2012 12:53 pm

    If only there was a Little NYC in LA (or a Little LA in NYC), that’d be well. Oh, shoot I’ve got to write a disclaimer too: Only for the food, nothing else. So you all would have pizza and bagels and my turf gets Mexican that isn’t preceded by the word fusion.

    • August 23, 2012 5:29 pm

      That’d be great! I’ve lived in the Midwest where it’s much harder to get good Mexican food, so I can understand how you feel. And I’m less picky about pizza– I can be pretty happy with that in most places– but I’m a total bagel snob and usually only enjoy them in NYC (or from Bagels Forever in Madison, WI)! I wish I could get better bagels in California, instead of having to bring them back in my checked luggage anytime I go to NY or Madison… :)

      • August 23, 2012 6:07 pm

        Madison…did you go to the University of Wisconsin? Due to the massive size of the school, was there quite a bit of diversity in eats in the Madison area?
        Hmm, it was a bit hackneyed of me to comment about the NY/LA thing, because really, everywhere is missing something, so we might as well make the most of what’s available…or rev up our entrepreneurial drive!

        Has LA become caught up in the bbq craze NYC is now going through?

      • August 24, 2012 8:50 am

        Nope, I was born and raised in Madison, till I turned 18. I didn’t stay there for college, though. But yes, there is SO much wonderful food/restaurant diversity in Madison! It is one of my favorite cities to eat in, ever. There are countless great food carts on the campus, and I have so many favorite restaurants there, I can never find time to visit them all whenever I’m back for only a week or two. (My favorite is a Nepali/Himalayan restaurant called Himal Chuli.)

        And I’m really not sure about the food trends in LA, since I live 90 minutes north of there in Santa Barbara, and rarely make the short (but stressful driving) trip to Los Angeles.

  3. January 3, 2013 12:51 pm

    So, after your previous message where you said you could eat Chilaquiles every single day of your life, I looked up your recipe, as I had no idea what Chilaquiles were. Now I know, but I am afraid one doesn’t find tomatillos here in France, nor queso fresco either. I guess France and Japan have this absence of Mexican food in common! But at least, now I know what Chilaquiles are.

    • January 4, 2013 9:04 am

      Oh no, that’s sad! But of course I feel your pain with the absence of Mexican food, having lived in Japan. Queso fresco is by no means necessary for good chilaquiles verdes, but unfortunately tomatillos are… On the other hand, assuming you could find any good salsa that you like (or make your own) and some fresh corn tortillas– difficult to do in Europe, I know– then you could still make chilaquiles in red tomato salsa!

  4. February 19, 2013 3:37 pm

    These look so delicious. I’ll have to try and make them!

    • February 21, 2013 8:58 am

      They are delicious! We make chilaquiles just about every other weekend (and use the leftover salsa to make them again during the week). I hope you enjoy them! :)

  5. May 23, 2013 12:28 pm

    I seriously need these now. I think it’s time to take my last bag of last summer’s tomatillos out of the freezer!

    • May 30, 2013 9:59 am

      Yes, do it! After all, it’s almost summer again now… :)

      (By the way, are tomatillos hard to find in Seattle? <== For future reference if I ever need to leave California, even though I might never be able to leave the west coast…)

      • May 30, 2013 11:10 pm

        Tomatillos are easy to come by here in the summer, they’re in the farmers markets and I get loads in my CSA. I haven’t had much luck growing them in my back yard, although lots of people do. There are other serious produce-related drawbacks to living here, though–like you have CHERRIES already, and ours are 2 months off!!–so let me know if you need me to complain to you about those for a while. :)

      • May 31, 2013 2:57 pm

        That’s wonderful your CSA has tomatillos! I was a little disappointed in mine for not enough tomatoes (and zero tomatillos) last summer, so this year we were going to go with a different farm, but instead we just bought tons of farmstand groupons!

        (And I probably shouldn’t even tell you this, but I’m pretty sure I bought my first local cherries of the season over a month ago… crazy California.)

  6. September 5, 2013 10:13 am

    This is wonderful. Thanks for sharing the story behind your blog name. Muy simpática :D

    • September 5, 2013 10:18 am

      Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog name origin! The part of the story that I left out was that I had been (delaying the start of my blog and) trying to brainstorm good blog names for about three whole months before that—keeping a list of all the ones I liked (most of which were already taken)—but once I said the words “spontaneous tomato” out loud, I realized I had finally found my blog name. :)

  7. February 9, 2014 11:14 pm

    I love the story of how your blog name came about! The words sound so good together :) I also love the sound of this recipe – it’s nearing dinner time here, and I’m wishing that I’d found this recipe about an hour ago so I could make it!

    • February 13, 2014 10:11 am

      Thanks so much! Sorry to hear you didn’t find this in time for your dinner that night, but hopefully you bookmarked it for another time! (We love making it for Sunday brunch and then having the leftovers for Monday dinner. :)

  8. March 6, 2014 9:27 am

    Holy cow I love these! I’m totally making them this weekend. Yes!

    • March 6, 2014 9:32 am

      Yay! Hope you enjoy them, Amanda! Paula and I are probably making them this weekend, too!! (We were going to make them last weekend, but my car problems foiled our tomatillo-shopping plans…)

  9. March 10, 2014 2:39 pm

    I think I am going to be quite happy following your blog

  10. Marie permalink
    August 25, 2014 11:55 am

    Hi! These are some mighty scrumptious looking entrees you’ve got on this site! ^_^ Just wanted to throw in my two cents for the chilaquiles: it actually is very possible/common to make chilaquiles with red chile salsa, not just tomatillo. Of course, either are delicious, but just wanted to throw out there are always options!


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