Tomatillos are more closely related to gooseberries than to tomatoes, and they have a tangy flavor with light citrus notes. They form the base of this easy salsa verde, in which chicken and vegetables are cooked.
Serves 4 to 6
1 pound tomatillos, husked and rinsed
2 or 3 jalapeño or serrano chilies, seeds and ribs removed, diced (see note)
1 shallot, sliced
1/2 cup firmly packed fresh cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, seeds and ribs removed, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (I used chicken breasts)
2 large sweet potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 - 3 cups chicken stock
2 small yellow summer squash, halved lengthwise and cut into 3/4-inch slices
1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 diced avocado, for serving
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, for serving
3 scallions, white parts and 4 inches of green tops, sliced, for serving.
Place the tomatillos in the saucepan and cover them with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer the tomatillos for 6 to 8 minutes, or until they turn from bright green to olive green. Drain the tomatillos and dice them when cool enough to handle.
Combine the tomatillos, chilies, shallot and cilantro in a food processor fitted with a steel blade or in a blender. Puree, and scrape the mixture into a bowl.
Heat the oil in the saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and red bell pepper and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cumin and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly, or until the onion is translucent.
Add the tomatillo puree to the saucepan along with the chicken, sweet potatoes and stock. Season with salt and pepper and simmer over low heat, covered, for 30 minutes. Add the summer squash and beans and cook for an additional 10 to 12 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes and squash are tender.
Remove the chicken thighs from the pan with tongs, and shred the meat with two forks. Return the meat to the pan and adjust the seasoning as needed. Serve in low bowls, passing around dishes containing avocado, sour cream, cilantro, and scallions as garnishes.
Note: The real heat in chilies is found in the seeds and the ribs, so you can always adjust a dish to your liking by either removing the seeds and ribs or leaving them in. When you see a recipe calling for more than one chili pepper, it’s likely that the seeds are meant to be discarded.
Make ahead: The dish can be prepared up to 2 days in advance and refrigerated, tightly covered. Reheat it, covered, over low heat.
Variation: Substitute 1 1/2 pounds peeled and deveined shrimp for the chicken and substitute seafood stock for the chicken stock. Add the shrimp to the dish along with the summer squash and beans.