One of the things I love about gluten-free eating is the variety of foods I’ve discovered by exploring the foods of various cultures around the world. While a GF diet can be challenging, I think it also encourages me to explore foods more broadly than I once did.
Of course, sometimes that exploration takes me right back home. As a native of California, I have Mexican food in my blood. When my husband and I travel, the first food we crave is Mexican (and those cravings have lead to some very, very interesting meals in various countries of the world). Generally, our first meal at home comes in the form of tacos.
While wheat, in particular, has crept into Mexican cuisine, finding gluten-free Mexican food is generally a simple task. Yes, you do need to exercise caution, but there are so many great choices that you’ll never feel deprived when you hit your local Mexican joint!
And, obviously, I cook many Mexican-style meals at home. I’ve written of my love for tacos, for huevos rancheros, and my beloved chilaquiles. These are great, fast, and delicious dishes with ingredients you can find just about anywhere. Once you step outside these traditional favorites, there are many more choices…and many fascinating ingredients.
One that I love — and I don’t use often enough — is tomatillos. These are not, I repeat not, tomatoes (though sometimes you’ll find someone calling them “green tomatoes”; different flavor!). They strongly resemble tomatoes, however (and they’re from the same family). Tomatillos are generally found in the grocery store with their papery husks still wrapped around the fruit. The husks peel off quickly and a quick rinse of the tomatillos will remove the stickiness from the husk.
What I love about tomatillos is they bring a distinctive citrusy, bright taste to foods. They make a great roasted vegetable, though, as with tomatoes, it’s helpful to remove the seeds as they get very, very melty quickly. And, of course, they’re the basis for my favorite salsa.
Salsa, which is Spanish for sauce, is also the basis for the delicious and fast weekend chicken dinner I call Chicken Chile Verde. This quick stew can be as hot or mild as you want. The hardest part of the recipe is roasting the chiles for the salsa. And you know if that’s the biggest challenge, this is a very easy recipe indeed.
And how do you make your favorite salsa?
Tip of the Week
For a mild, bright peppery flavor, use Anaheim or poblano peppers in your salsa. You can buy these peppers already roasted in cans in the Mexican food section of your grocery store, or you can easily roast them yourself. I like to roast mine directly over the flame of my gas stove (using tongs for safety!) until the skin is blistered and blackened. Store the peppers in a paper or plastic bag for five to ten minutes, until cool, then rub the skins off (I don’t worry if I leave a bit). If you don’t have a gas stove, you can roast the peppers in the oven under the broiler — it should take about five to ten minutes per side, depending on your oven.