Houston-Style Green Salsa

August 8, 2012

We’ve been on a green salsa kick recently. Cooking still doesn’t sound that fun so instead we’ve been coming home, cracking a beer, and eating way too many chips with this salsa. It’s rillyrilly good.

It’s up to you, of course, to make it as spicy as you like. Our first batch was good but thicker than we wanted and nowhere near hot enough. The second batch (and I should note, this is most definitely a Dan-led initiative) is the recipe you see below. We used two hot peppers and left the seeds in – actually we just lopped off the stems and threw them into the blender whole – plus we added a pinch of cayenne pepper.

The avocado and sour cream do an amazing job of bringing some creamy balance to the heat of the peppers but it’s certainly got a kick so cold beers are advised :)

Houston-Style Green Salsa
adapted from The Homesick Texan Cookbook


  • 1 lb fresh tomatillos
  • 1 large avocado
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 small onion, roughly chopped
  • 1-2 serrano peppers, seeds removed (or left in!)
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2 tbsp sour cream


  1. Remove the husks from the tomatillos and drop them whole into a pot of boiling water for 5 minutes to soften them. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, transfer them from the pot to the blender.
  2. Remove the pit and scoop out the avocado flesh. Add it to the blender along with the garlic, onion, peppers, lime juice, and sour cream.
  3. Blend until you reach desired consistency.
  4. Add cilantro, cayenne, and a large pinch of salt, pulsing once or twice to combine.
  5. Leftovers will keep several days in the fridge. Yields 2 cups.

This dipping sauce is incredible. Thank you Ottolenghi for yet another stellar recipe. The man knows no bounds. It’s a simple combination of crème fraîche with diced lemongrass, fresh ginger, lime zest and juice, and salt, resulting in a cool, zingy, tart, creamy delight to dunk crispy-tender spears of sweet potato into.

One of my friends commented that she loved how long the sweet potato wedges are and I agree – they’re almost comically long and so satisfying to dunk in that lemongrass crème fraîche. You want them to bake long enough to become tender but I left them 15 minutes longer still, to make sure they had crispy-brown edges. Perfect.

Have you ever tried crème fraîche? If you live in the U.K., likely yes, but if you’re from the U.S. then maybe not – it doesn’t seem to be as popular here by a long shot. That said, I found it easily at my local co-op and rumour has it Trader Joe’s sells it so it’s not that rare. Seek it out and if you can’t find it you could actually make your own by adding a small amount of cultured buttermilk or sour cream to heavy cream, and allowing it to stand for several hours at room temperature until the bacterial cultures act on the cream.

Sweet Potato Wedges with Lemongrass Crème Fraîche
from Plenty: Vibrant Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi


  • 3 medium sweet potatoes (weighing about 2lbs total)
  • 4 tbsp olive oil1.5 tsp ground coriander
  • 3.4 tsp coarse sea salt
  • 1 fresh red chile, diced
  • 1 cup cilantro, chopped

Dipping sauce

  • 1/2 lemongrass stalk, very finely diced
  • 3/4 cup crème fraîche
  • grated zest and juice of 2 limes
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1/2 tsp fine salt


  1. Preheat oven to 400F and line a roasting pan with parchment paper. Brush lightly with some of the olive oil. Wash the sweet potatoes but don’t peel them. Cut each in half lengthways. Cut in half again lengthways and then again so that you end up with eight long wedges.
  2. Place wedges in the roasting pan and brush with the rest of the olive oil. Sprinkle with a mixture of the coarse salt and coriander. Roast for about 25 minutes, or until the wedges are tender and crispy at the edges. Remove from the oven and allow to cool a bit. You can enjoy them warm or at room temperature which is what we did.
  3. To make the dipping sauce, whisk all the ingredients together, taste and adjust, then set aside.
  4. When ready to serve, place the wedges on a large, flat plate or serving dish. Sprinkle with diced chile and fresh cilantro. Serve with the sauce on the side, for dipping. Serves about four.

basil hummus

August 31, 2011

You say “bay-sil”, I say “ba-sul”.

You spell it “hummus”, we spell it “houmous”.

Here’s one thing we can agree on: the time is coming when we all need to use up the basil growing in our gardens and lining our supermarket shelves before frosty mornings kill it off and caprese salads are a sad, distant memory.

Are you sick of pesto? It’s kind of the ubiquitous, basil-user-upper, but what about this: basil hummus. What’s not to like? Two of my favourite things to eat (pesto and hummus for those slow on the uptake), combined into one glorious concoction, perfect for spreading in sandwiches and scooping up with pita bread (yeah, yeah, we spell it “pitta”).

Basil Hummus
from Simply Recipes


  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 2 cups sweet basil leaves, packed
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed then minced
  • 2 15-ounce cans garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed and drained*
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Up to 1/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons salt
  • Several dashes Tabasco
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste


  1. Heat the pine nuts in a small skillet on medium high heat. Stir them when they start to brown. When most of them have lightly browned, remove them from the pan into a bowl to cool. (Reserve a few pine nuts for garnish.)
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, place the basil leaves and the garlic. Pulse until finely chopped. Add the rinsed and drained garbanzo beans, most of the pine nuts, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, tomato paste, and a few dashes of Tabasco. Pulse several times, for several seconds each time, until the hummus is smooth. Add more Tabasco and salt or lemon juice to taste. Add water to the point of desired consistency.
  3. To serve, place in a bowl and drizzle a little olive oil over it. Sprinkle with a few toasted pine nuts. Serve with pita wedges, crackers, or granary bread. Makes about 3 cups of hummus.