A couple of weeks ago, Ben and I took a quick weekend trip up to Chicago sans kids to celebrate my birthday.  We drove up on Friday evening after work in less than ideal weather conditions to make our late dinner reservations at Topolobampo.  Rick Bayless is the man – I adore his cookbooks almost as much as I adore his restaurants.  Though on this trip we did break our rule of never missing a chance to eat at XOCO, our meal at Topolobampo more than made up for it.  A food-centric weekend including a couple of restaurants I had been dying to try was indeed the perfect birthday gift for me.

A few days later and back to reality, I was talking with Ben’s mom on the phone and filling her in on all the details of our meal at Topo.  The next thing I knew, Ben’s parents were coming over for dinner a few days later with an offer of a Rick Bayless-inspired menu.  We started out the evening with chips, guacamole, mango salsa, and this fresh tomatillo salsa.  The gorgeous vibrant colors and freshness of this spread were just what we all needed.  And while we’re at it, why not go all the way with blood orange margaritas – am I right?  Please don’t tell guacamole, but I think this salsa really was my favorite of the appetizer choices.  I have made it a few times before and each time, I marvel at how something so fabulous takes just minutes to make.  This is one of those recipes you really need to have in your repertoire for quick but easy entertaining, or for snack attacks that demand something better than PB&J.


  • 8 oz. tomatillos, husked, rinsed and quartered
  • 1 large clove garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ tsp. coarse salt


  • 01

    Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor or blender.  Pulse to a coarse puree, being careful not to over process.  Transfer to a serving bowl.  Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.  Serve with chips, etc. as desired.


  • It is CRAZY how much better homemade salsa is than anything you can buy. And green salsa is my favorite. Also, going to a Rick Bayless restaurant is my birthday DREAM!! So fun.

  • Liz @ Tip Top Shape

    i was wondering if this recipe would be inspired by XOCO! I was close!! I love the idea of an entirely Rick Bayless inspired meal! It sounds like it would be delicious!

  • Angela

    I just bought that cookbook as I too love Rick Bayless everything!!! :-) Can’t wait to try out the recipes. My husband and I love Frontera. It is our anniversary today so this weekend we are finally going to Topolobampo. I am so excited. Any suggestions on what to eat?

  • G. Marks

    Hi Annie- Do you mind me asking what else you served for dinner. My family is away for school vacation and I’m home alone and would like to treat myself to a nice dinner-at home in front of the fireplace (Netflix anyone?). Also, which Rick Bayless cookbook did you use??

  • David

    My wife and I had lunch at Frontera Grill during a recent trip to Chicago. It was the best Mexican food I’ve ever had. Rick Bayless is brilliant!

  • annieseats

    I’ll be posting more about it very soon :) The cookbook is linked at the bottom of the post.

  • annieseats

    Well everything on the menu looked amazing. We ended up going with the classic tasting menu (there were three tasting menus to choose from, or you can do a la carte.) I think it was an excellent choice and we thoroughly enjoyed the entire meal!

  • weareatlove

    Love this salsa! Also, thanks for the tips where to eat in Chicago!

  • Michelle Smith Koenig

    I notice you don’t cook the tomatillos before making the salsa. Is there a reason for that?

  • annieseats

    Not sure I understand the question. Tomatillos do not need to be cooked before eating, which is why this is fresh tomatillo salsa.

  • Michelle Smith Koenig

    I didn’t know that. I’ve only been taught to boil them first.

  • Amelia

    Mmm! I love tomatillo salsa and even better if you have freshly fried warm chips and a margarita. Bring on the warm weather!!!

  • Brenna G

    This salsa looks great! I think it will go perfectly with the margaritas I have planned for this Saturday. Don’t forget that February 22nd is National Margarita Day!! That is NOT a holiday to be missed!! :)

  • Snazzoo

    A Tomatillo that has not been at least blanched is hard and the surface is extraordinarily sticky. In my experience, blanching is a necessary preliminary step prior to husking and preparing salsa.

  • annieseats

    They are sticky, which is why you rinse them. But no, blanching is not necessary. I trust Rick Bayless, as well as my taste buds :)

  • G. Marks

    Oops…missed the link at the bottom and that’s great since Mexican Everyday is the one I have!! Thank you!

  • I don’t think I’ve ever had a tomatillo, gotta rectify that soon!

  • Stephanie

    Love tomatillo salsa and this looks great!

  • Emily @ Life on Food

    I love love love Frontera Grill!!!

  • Marta

    mmm looks delicious! Dying to try it! Thank you for sharing it with us!

  • Melissa Brooker

    I bought Mexican everyday recently, and tonight is a total Rick bayless night,jicama and watercress salad, this salsa and jalapeno baked fish with potatoes and tomatoes. I saw you posted this and knew it had to be good, I actually made the roasted version, which was amazing, I may try the fresh next time! I love seeing reviews of cookbook recipes before trying them. I need to make double next time!

  • annieseats

    Yes! I love the roasted one too – both are soooo good. I think the fresh is my favorite though. You’ll have to try it too!

  • Melissa Brooker

    I’m go to the farmers market tomorrow to get some more tomatillos and I will be making the fresh version, can’t wait t try it!

  • Lauren Ochoa

    I made this tonight with the jalapeño cheddar biscuits and poached eggs as a breakfast for dinner treat. With leftover salsa in the frig and frozen biscuits in the freezer, I foresee this getting a repeat performance very soon! It is so easy to make this salsa, I literally quizzed it up in about 60 seconds while the biscuits were baking. I don’t know why but I always thought tomatillo salsa was a lot more complicated than this.

  • Melissa Brooker

    I made this tonight and you’re right I think I prefer the fresh version! Raw garlic hurts my stomach so I used Rick’s tip to poke holes in unpeeled garlic and microwave for 30 seconds. Worked like a charm!

  • Shari

    This is very good, you should try Pioneer Woman’s fajitas nachos recipe mainly for the marinade which consists of chipotle in adobo sauce, cilantro, lime juice, garlic, and olive oil. You puree all the ingredients then marinade your choice of meat (mine is chicken) overnight and cook on the grill or cast iron. That is what I am making tonight and I have your salsa to go with this tonight!