2005_08_zarela's_veracruz.jpgZarela's Veracruz: Mexico's Simplest CuisineZarela's Veracruz: Mexico's Simplest Cuisine (Houghton Mifflin, 2004)

With a heat wave like this, Gothamist could not bring ourselves to cook by any book this week--not in any way that involved a stove or oven. Instead, we decided to make an uncooked salsa. And while we've spent all summer long making pico de gallo salsa with the local tomatoes we can't get enough of, this week we wanted to do something a little different.

Instead of a tomato-based raw salsa, we decided to try Zarela Martinez's tomatillo-and-avocado-based salsa. Zarela's eponymous restaurant brought authentic regional Mexican cuisines to NYC long before these Juanito-come-latelys, so we decided to give her take on green salsa a try.

We found the recipe to be as easy and tasty as we had hoped it would be, allowing us to laze around and make a dinner of tortilla chips and salsa. We suggest you do the same before the heat breaks.


2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 small white onion, coarsely chopped
2-3 serrano or jalapeño chiles, stemmed and coarsely chopped, or to taste
6-8 medium tomatillos (approximately 1/2 pound), husks removed, rinsed, and cut into quarters
1 ripe Mexican-type avocado (such as Haas)
12-15 cilantro sprigs

Whether you are using a machine or mortar and pestle, most of the process is the same: In a food processor or blender or a heavy mortar, process or pound the garlic and salt to a paste. Add the onion, chiles, and tomatillos and pulse to make a slightly chunky paste or pound and mash the ingredients together as fine as possible.

Halve and pit the avocado and scoop out the flesh. For a smooth machine-finished puree, add it to the other ingredients, along with the cilantro, and process very fine. If using the hand method, chop the avocado flesh fine and mash it into the onion-tomatillo mixure. Chop the cilantro leaves and stems and stir in. Or for a compromise version, process the onion-tomatillo mixture in the machine until smooth, pour into a bowl, and mix in the chopped avocado flesh along with the cilantro. Serve as soon as possible, certainly within the hour.