Home-Grown Habaneros and my Recipe for Fiery Tomatillo Salsa

What do you get when you open the fridge and see two week’s worth of tomatillos from your CSA and a dozen ripe habanero peppers that your husband picked from the backyard garden? Answer: A lesson in Scoville Units and a tomatillo salsa that is fiery hot!

Fiery Tomatillo Salsa via Mealmakeovermoms.com/kitchen

This tomatillo salsa, or salsa verde, was simple to make and the addition of habanero pepper added quite a kick!

Tomatillo Salsa 11

This innocent-looking habanero pepper is one of the hottest peppers on earth. The Scoville scale is a measurement of the spicy heat (capsaicin concentration) of chili peppers or other spicy foods. Most habaneros rate between 200,000 and 300,000 on the Scoville scale. To put that into perspective, a jalapeno pepper rates 1,000 to 4,000. My husband didn’t know this when he planted “some hot peppers” in our garden this year!

Tomatillos via Mealmakeovermoms.com/kitchen

I posted a photo of my tomatillos to our Meal Makeover Moms Facebook page and asked for ideas for how to use them. Salsa verde, or tomatillo salsa, was the overwhelming favorite, so I looked at all the recipes recommended and came up with my own.

Fiery Tomatillo Salsa via Mealmakeovermoms.com/kitchen

 I liked the idea of roasting the tomatillos, so I roasted them with my habaneros and a clove of garlic.

Roasted Habaneros via Mealmakeovermoms.com/kitchen

I was working with our two Boston University interns when we roasted the peppers. It wasn’t until we took a tiny bite that we realized that these were no ordinary hot peppers. Our (unlucky) intern, Whitney, seeded and chopped one and started coughing, and when I went over to investigate I started coughing as well. It’s hard to describe just how pungent and hot these are!

IRoasted Habaneros via Mealmakeovermoms.com/kitchen

We decided to puree the habanero peppers in a food processor with enough water to blend and then freeze small amounts to use (carefully!) for future dishes. We placed nickel-size drops on a foil-lined cookie sheet and placed in the freezer. Then, we put the habanero “coins” in a zip-top bag back in the freezer. It was a bit messy since the mixture didn’t get rock hard, but it worked.  I have already added a couple of “nickels” to a big pot of chili, and it was great.

Tomatillo Salsa via Mealmakeovermoms.com/kitchen

Tomatillo salsa in the food processor. Be sure to process the ingredients well so the habanero is evenly distributed!

I posted a photo of the cute little orange peppers in my garden on our Meal Makeover Moms’ Facebook page to see if I was the only one who didn’t recognize what they were, and I got almost 40 comments and a few warnings! Here’s a sample:

Mary Ford Glickman: “habanero! “some hot peppers” is an understatement. smile emoticon Wash hands after handling and before touching face or any other part! (or wear gloves)”

Lisette Deida-Moore: “Habanero peppers…definitely one of the spiciest on the planet…there is one other pepper that is even hotter…”

Christa Wilson: “Yes, habeneros. One time I picked some from a community garden and didn’t know what they were. I chopped them up and put them on top of pizza. We all bit in to them at the same time…by “we” I mean two adults and two small children. Thankfully I hadn’t fed any to the baby yet. There was so much screaming and crying and eye watering and nose running by all 4 of us! It was like the scene in “Dumb and Dumber” when Lloyd and Harry put peppers on the hit man’s sandwich. This was about 3 years ago and they still don’t trust me when I serve pizza.”

Fiery Tomatillo Salsa
This tomatillo salsa, or salsa verde, is fiery hot because of the addition of a quarter of a roasted habanero pepper. Feel free to leave out or use a milder hot pepper, depending on your family's taste preferences. Freeze the leftover habanero to add (judiciously!) to chili, tacos or guacamole.
Serves: 12
  • 10 tomatillos, husked and rinsed
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 habanero chili pepper
  • ⅓ cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ small red onion, cut into ¼-inch dice (about ¼ cup)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  1. Place the tomatillos, garlic, and chili pepper on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet and place under a broiler until the skins blacken and tomatillos soften. Flip and broil the other sides until skins blacken. Remove from oven and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
  2. Place the roasted tomatillos, garlic, and one quarter of the roasted habanero in a food processor, along with the cilantro and kosher salt, and process until smooth. Taste, and add a bit more habanero if you like things spicy!
  3. Add the onion and lime juice and pulse a few times to combine.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 2 Tablespoons Calories: 10 Fat: 0g, Saturated fat: 0g, Carbohydrates: 2g, Sodium: 45mg, Fiber: 1g, Protein: 0g

Tomatillo Salsa via Mealmakeovermoms.com/kitchen

Let us know if you try this recipe and if you dare to use a habanero pepper. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!!

4 responses to “Home-Grown Habaneros and my Recipe for Fiery Tomatillo Salsa”

  1. Serena says:

    Probably a dumb question, but do you think I could use ALL the green tomatoes from my garden instead of tomatillos?

  2. Janice says:

    Serena, it’s worth a try! Let us know how it works – maybe seed the tomatoes before using them?

  3. We love spicy food and this salsa looks so deliciously hot and tasty! Would you ever try a ghost pepper? My husband says he would, but I’d be scared!

  4. Serena says:

    It was yummy!! I used green cherry tomatoes instead of tomatillos and my kids loved it. I also subbed in a roasted red pepper instead of anything spicy… Thanks for the encouragement Janice! Here is the result: http://teaspoonofspice.com/2015/10/healthy-kitchen-hacks-25/

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