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Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger have been figures on the American culinary scene for several happy decades. They have appeared on TV, established a chain of Mexican restaurants, and left us with a legacy of wonderful cookbooks. The pair is famous for their advocacy of authentic recipes.

Here’s a perfect example. Once you have had a perfect Tomatillo Salsa, you crave it. We had a restaurant by us in New York City for a few years, and I would buy their salsa by the pint. It was perfect and now, from Mesa Mexicano, Suzi and I make our own. It’s perfect, giving your mouth a sparkling spike with every bite.

Tomatillos can be used in salsa two ways: raw and cooked. Which is better? Both are. I vacillate between the two. But lately, I’m inclined to side with this raw or uncooked version.

This salsa is tart, thanks to both the tomatillo and the jalapeno. Oh, the cilantro, too. The bright flavor is a perfect complement for rich foods. Like the chicken chilaquiles recipe you’ll see here tomorrow!

Tomatillo Salsa

Yield: 3 ½ cups


  • 1 pound tomatillos, husked, washed and cut into quarters
  • 2 to 4 large jalapeno chiles, stemmed, seeded if desired and roughly chopped
  • ½ cup cold water
  • ½ medium onion, cut in half
  • 2 bunches cilantro, stems and leaves
  • 2 teaspoons salt


Place the tomatillos, jalapenos and water in a blender or a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Puree just until chunky. Then add the remaining ingredients and puree about 2 minutes more, or until no large chunks remain. This salsa keeps in the refrigerator, in a covered container, about 3 days.

Source: Mesa Mexicano by Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger [Morrow, 1994]

Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS 60mm Macro Lens, F/4 for 1/40th second at ISO‑40