Mexican salsa verde with tomatillos and pineapple

Mexican salsa verde

I am clearly not a proper foodie. The other day a carton of tomatillos arrived on the back doorstep in our weekly veg box from Riverford and I had no idea what they were. I thought they looked vaguely like Cape gooseberries, so peeled back the papery husk of one and popped it in my mouth. I instantly spat it out again as the sour juices hit my tongue.

On consulting the Riverford website, I discovered these little green fruits were indeed tomatillos, native to Mexico and a staple of Mexican cuisine. It turns out they are actually related to the Cape gooseberry, so I don’t feel a complete plank for stuffing one in my gob.


So, what to do with them? I posted the question on Twitter and Instagram, and the response was almost unanimous: Mexican salsa verde. Who was I to argue? Particularly as were planning a barbecue later that day, and I thought a salsa verde would make a perfect condiment.

But as is my wont, I felt the urge to play with the Riverford recipe I turned to and decided to throw in some ripe pineapple for a little sweet to balance out the sour, an addition that worked out rather well I thought. Some recipes call for cooked tomatillos, but Riverford recommend  using raw as “they retain a sour freshness that would be perfect for a summer’s day”. I rather liked the sound of that. The end result was a vibrant and fresh dip for tortilla chips that works equally well as a tangy accompaniment to grilled steak and fish, particularly when washed down with an ice cold beer.

My nine-year-old loved it while my six-year-old wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole – perhaps it was just a little too green for her?

Mexican salsa verde

Mexican salsa verde with tomatillos and pineapple

350g tomatillos, husks removed and washed
½ ripe pineapple, peeled and chopped
1 small onion, finely diced
1 red chilli, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
juice of 1 lime
large handful of fresh coriander (plus a little extra for serving)
1 tsp brown sugar
sea salt

Simply throw all the ingredients into a food processor and whiz them up until you achieve a still chunky salsa texture. Pour into a serving bowl and garnish with a little extra chopped coriander.

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I’m entering this Mexican Salsa Verde into August’s Spice Trail challenge, hosted by moi, where the theme is Beach Barbecue.

Mexican month on The Spice Trail

Last month on The Spice Trail I called for your favourite Mexican recipes and boy, did you lot rise to the challenge? The following round-up is a sensational celebration of Mexican cuisine, demonstrating just how diverse and exciting this nation’s food really is.

So let’s get this party started, shall we?

mex1 CollageHow about starting our Mexican feast with a few nibbles? Pridhi from Drizzling Delicacies has brought these Easy Homemade Nacho Chips (1) to the party, flavoured with roasted cumin and totally irresistible. And how about some dips to accompany those nachos? Louisa from Eat Your Veg has made a super easy, super healthy Holy Moly Guacamole! (2), while Nasifriet offers us her Guacomole with a Twist (3) – the twist coming in the form of grey shrimps and tiger prawns.

Grab some crusty bread for this colourful Mexican Oil Dip (4) from Sarah at The Garden Deli, featuring lots of Mexican-inspired flavours such as coriander, chillies, lime and tomato. I think Sarah’s spicy oil would be a wonderful accompaniment to this homemade Queso Fresca (5) from Lapin d’Or and More, which is also perfect served with pasta.

If there’s any bread or nachos left, you can use them to scoop up some of my very messy but incredibly moreish Queso Fundido (6), a Mexican version of fondue topped with spicy chorizo and a fun addition to any gathering.

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Time to clear away the nibbles and get properly stuck into our Mexican menu. First up is my Black Bean Soup & Chilli Baked Feta (7), a dark and deeply smoky soup which is a perfect match for the spicy, tangy feta cheese.

We’ve a couple of sweet potato dishes next. I love the look of this vibrant Sweet Potato Salsa (8) from Nasifriet, which sounds so zingy and refreshing, and then how about these marvellously vegetastic Sweet Potato, Zucchini and Olive Quesadillas (9) from Johanna at Green Gourmet Giraffe, in which the sweet potato becomes a replacement for cheese.

Similar to cheese-less quesadillas are these Cheater Tlacoyos with Nopales (Cactus) (10) from Janet at The Taste Space. Never having eaten cactus, I am really rather intrigued by these, which are served with a generous helping of refried beans – which I have eaten before and adore.

Janice from Farmersgirl Kitchen brings her take on a Mexican ‘Tortilla’ Bake (11) to our table, which looks so tasty and just the dish for using up a fridgeful of eggs and veggies.

How about following that up with a serving of these Bean Enchiladas (12) from My Kitchen Odyssey, made with blackbeans, mushrooms, chilli, garlic and of course lots of Mexican spice?

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Linsy from Home Cook Food shows us how to make her versatile Home Made Red Enchiladas Sauce with Roasted Tomatoes (13) next, which as well as being great in enchiladas is also ideal for chimichanga or any other Mexican dish requiring a tomato sauce. Indeed how about trying it in Linsy’s tasty Soy Chorizo and Vegetables Enchiladas (14)?

These Vegan Mexican Tamale Pies (15) from Shaheen at Allotment 2 Kitchen look just so tempting. I really wish she lived closer to me so I could sample some direct from her stall. She describes them as a Mexican version of shepherd’s pie, made from soy mincemeat and beans, topped off with a creamy cornmeal topping. Don’t they sound good?

Holy Mole! We have another stunning vegetarian dish next, this time from Sarah at The Fig Tree, whose Vegetable, Lentil and Bean Mole (16) features a lovely homemade Mexican spice mix as well as a whole host of virtuous veggies and even chocolate. A perfect meatless Monday meal, I reckon.

Beans feature a lot in Mexican cookery and there are no less than 15 different kinds in this Vegetarian Chilli (17) from Linsy at Home Cook Food. She describes it as a thick soup and is good served with quesadillas, corn cakes or  corn bread. I like the way she’s served it with a generous dollop of guacamole on top.

Another chilli next but this time a meaty Chilli con Carne (18) from Julie’s Family Kitchen, another entry to use that classic Mexican addition of dark chocolate. Now doesn’t that look like a satisfying bowlful?

mex4 CollageElle from What the Cook also brings a chilli to our Mexican table but this time it’s a Healthy But Hearty Chilli Con Carne (19), which she says not only tastes divine but also does you a bit of good too. It looks and sounds full of flavour and I like the idea of topping it with both fresh parsley and mint – a combination I haven’t tried before.

Not surprisingly, Martin from Spurs Cook has brought a football theme to our Mexican party with his Chicken Villa-jitas (20) – get it? To be honest, I don’t really understand the football references (I’m more of a rugby girl myself), but I do like the look of Martin’s tasty fajitas, flavoured with lots of cumin, paprika and coriander and I know they’d be a big hit with my kids too.

Dark chocolate with game is a splendid combination, as seen here in this Partridge with Chilli and Chocolate Sauce (21) from Solange at Pebble Soup, which she adapated from a Sophie Grigson recipe to suit her French guests. There’s some great advice about not covering the meat entirely with the chocolate sauce, otherwise it looks rather like… well, you’ll need to read that over on Solange’s blog…

Next up we have some Moreish Mexican Fish Tortillas (22) from Elle at What the Cook. The fish in question is haddock, which has been marinated in a whole host of gorgeous Mexican spices along with both grapefruit and lime juice – doesn’t that sound fantastic?

Finally it’s time to end our Mexican party with a little sweet something, or two. Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog brings us these Mexican Smoked Chilli Energy Bars (23). Perhaps they’re really a little two healthy for a pudding, filled with oats, nuts and dried fruit as well as  some of Gran Luchito’s excellent smoked chilli honey, and possibly more appropriate for breakfast, but I know I could happily tuck into one of these any time of the day.

This Mexican Spiced Chocolate Orange Cake (24) from Cakes From Kim definitely fits the pudding bill though, with its decadent three tiers of truffle-like chocolate cake flavoured with orange and cinnamon. I love the pretty skull decorations too, inspired by the Mexican Dia de los Muertos. What a perfect way to finish off our Mexican feast.

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And the winner is…

I think you’ll agree, we received a fantastic range of Mexican-themed recipes for this month’s Spice Trail challenge. But as usual there can only be one winner. So I have great pleasure in handing over to Alex from Gran Luchito to make that all important announcement…

“The overall winner has to be the Moreish Mexican Fish Tortillas from What the Cook. I loved the look of this dish. I can quite easily imagine stuffing my face with these on a beach in Mexico. I like the sound of the various ingredients going into the marinade, but it’s also a recipe which doesn’t seem to require too much messing around. Perfect. Congratulations to Elle at What the Cook who wins a box set of Gran Luchito chilli paste, mayo and honey.”

In acknowledgement of so many fine recipes, Alex has also nominated four more entries to receive runners-up prizes of a jar of chilli paste:

Well done everyone! We’ll get your Gran Luchito goodies out to you in the post as soon as you email me your addresses. Enjoy!

And thanks to everyone that took part in our glorious celebration of Mexican cookery. May’s Spice Trail is being hosted by Solange over at Pebble Soup and the theme this month is Vanilla. I can’t wait to see what dishes you come up with featuring this veritable queen of spices.

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Queso Fundido

Queso Fundido Collage

Queso Fundido is essentially a Mexican version of a cheese fondue, bringing together wonderfully oozy, gooey cheese with a fabulously spicy and very, very moreish cooked chorizo.

It’s a great dish to serve to a hungry family or perhaps when you have a few friends over for drinks. Serve it in the middle of the table with plenty of tortilla chips and hunks of crusty bread and people will come running, elbowing each other way to load up their next scoopful and laughing as everyone ends up with cheese all down their chins.

You could use a good shop bought chorizo meat for this dish but I made my own, using minced pork from my favourite butcher and the Cool Chile Co’s new Mexican Chorizo Seasoning, which I can highly recommend.

Mexican oaxaca or queso quesadilla would be the traditional cheeses to use in this dish but as I couldn’t get hold of these I experimented with Mozzarella and good old Cheddar, which I thought worked a treat.

queso fundido

Queso Fundido

Serves 4 to 6

200g uncooked Mexican chorizo meat (shop bought or make your own – see below for the Cool Chile Co recipe)
150g Mozzarella cheese, grated
200g Cheddar cheese, grated
2 large tomatoes, chopped
bag of tortilla chips
crusty bread – baguette is perfect

Preheat the oven to gas mark 6 / 200° Celsius.

In a large frying pan, cook the chorizo over a medium heat for about five minutes. Drain off the excess oil and set aside.

Mix the two cheeses together in a cast iron skillet or ceramic ovenproof dish and place in the oven until just melted. This takes around five minutes but keep an eye on it as you don’t want the cheese to burn.

Give the cheese a good mix before topping with the chorizo and chopped tomatoes.

Serve at once with tortilla chips and bread. It will be gone in seconds.

queso fundido

It’s incredibly easy to prepare your own chorizo meat using the seasoning kit from Cool Chile Co.

The contents of the kit include traditional chorizo spices (achieote powder, Mexican oregano, thyme, cinnamon, bay and clove) along with dried ancho, guajillo and chipotle chillies, , and the resulting chorizo is full of rich and beautifully smoky flavours, which I was surprised to find aren’t completely overpowered by all that chilli. It’s actually quite mild in terms of chilli heat, and both my daughters enjoyed it lots and weren’t at all phased by the spiciness.

Mexican Chorizo

This recipe created double the amount of chorizo I needed for my queso fundido so I froze the rest and plan to use with tacos very soon.

1 Cool Chile Co Mexican chorizo seasoning kit
4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
50ml cider vinegar
500g minced pork or beef (I used pork)
4 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil

Roast the chillies from the seasoning kit, and soak in hot water for 15 minutes. Blitz these in a food processor with the rest of the herbs and spices from the kit, as well as the garlic and cider vinegar, to create a dark red puree. Chill in the fridge.

Place the minced meat in a large bowl and add the chilled puree. Mix together thoroughly.

The chorizo meat is now ready to be used in your chosen dish, whether a queso fundido as here, or perhaps fry and crumble over fried or scrambled eggs, or mixed with diced onion and potato for a tortilla topping or taco filling.

queso fundido

I’m entering my queso fundido into this month’s Spice Trail challenge, where the theme for April is Destination Mexico.

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Disclosure: The Cool Chile Co provided me with a complementary Mexican Chorizo Seasoning kit for review purposes. All views expressed are completely my own and are 100% honest.

Destination Mexico on The Spice Trail

mexican month

This month’s Spice Trail is a little bit different. Instead of celebrating an individual spice, we are celebrating a specific cuisine, and that cuisine is Mexican.

Mexican cookery is well known for its big flavours and exciting use of fresh, vibrant ingredients and bold spices like chilli, cumin, cinnamon, cloves and allspice. The basic staple ingredients of this South American country might be beans, corn and peppers but the food of Mexico is as complex and varied as any of the world’s greatest cuisines. From our old favourite chilli con carne and the classic mole sauce to sensational street foods and hearty, slow-cooked soups and stews.

If you love Mexican food as much as I do, then this month’s challenge is the challenge for you. I wait with eager anticipation to see what delights you bring to our Mexican table.

Win a Gran Luchito gift set

gran luchito gift set

If the sheer joy of sharing your passion for Mexican food wasn’t enough to entice you, I also have a brilliant prize for this month’s winner from the generous folk at Gran Luchito, who happen to know a thing or two about authentic Mexican food.

Gran Luchito offer a taste of Oaxaca rarely tasted outside of Mexico, a smoky deep flavour from the back country hills of the Mixes. Their range includes a smoked chilli paste, a smoked chilli mayo and a smoked chilli honey. One lucky winner, chosen by a guest judge from Gran Luchito, will receive a gift set containing samples of each of these delicious products.

How to enter The Spice Trail

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  • Display the The Spice Trail badge (above and also available here) on your recipe post, and link back to this challenge post.
  • Up to three recipe links accepted per blogger, so long as they each one has a Mexican theme and features at least one spice.
  • Feel free to link up recipe posts from your archive, but please add the information about this challenge to the post and The Spice Trail badge.
  • Send your recipe URL to me at vanesther-at-reescommunications-dot-co-dot-uk, including your own email address and the title of your recipe or post. The closing date this month is Monday 28 April 2014.
  • If you tweet your post, please mention #TheSpiceTrail and me @BangerMashChat in your tweet and I’ll retweet each one I see.
  • As entries come in, links to these will be added to the bottom of this page.
  • At the end of the month a guest judge will choose a winning recipe and the winner this month will receive a gift set from Gran Luchito.
  • The winner will be announced in a monthly round-up of all the entries.
  • Entries from bloggers all around the world are accepted, but unfortunately the prize can only be shipped to a UK address.
  • All entries will be added to The Spice Trail Pinterest Board.

I’m really looking forward to seeing your Mexican dishes. Any questions, please tweet or email me.

And thanks to everyone who entered March’s ginger challenge – I’ll be posting the recipe round-up and winner announcement very soon.

April’s entries

  1. Chicken Villa-jitas from Spurs Cook
  2. Easy Homemade Nacho Chips from Drizzling Delicacies
  3. Bean Enchiladas from My Kitchen Odyssey
  4. Sweet Potato, Zucchini and Olive Quesadillas from Green Gourmet Giraffe
  5. Home Made Red Enchiladas Sauce with Roasted Tomatoes from Home Cook Food
  6. Soy Chorizo and Vegetables Enchiladas from Home Cook Food
  7. 15 Beans Vegetarian Chili from Home Cook Food
  8. Holy Mole! from The Fig Tree
  9. Partridge with Chilli and Chocolate Sauce from Pebble Soup
  10. Guacomole with a Twist for the Umpteenth Time from Nasifriet
  11. Cheater Tlacoyos with Nopales (Cactus) from The Taste Space
  12. Mexican Spiced Chocolate Orange Cake from Cakes From Kim
  13. Chilli con Carne from Julie’s Family Kitchen
  14. Vegan Mexican Tamale Pies from Allotment 2 Kitchen
  15. Black Bean Soup & Chilli Baked Feta from Bangers & Mash
  16. Sweet Potato Salsa from Nasifriet
  17. Mexican Smoked Chilli Energy Bars from Chocolate Log Blog
  18. Mexican ‘Tortilla’ Bake from Farmersgirl Kitchen
  19. Queso Fundido from Bangers & Mash
  20. Mexican Oil Dip from The Garden Deli
  21. Moreish Mexican Fish Tortillas from What the Cook
  22. Healthy But Hearty Chilli Con Carne from What the Cook
  23. Queso Fresca from Lapin d’Or and More
  24. Holy Moly Guacamole! from Eat Your Veg

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The Spice Trail: a new monthly event for food bloggers

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Celebrate cooking with spices and win a Mexican recipe box

This month a new challenge comes to Bangers & Mash: The Spice Trail – a monthly food bloggers’ event, showcasing dishes from all around the world that celebrate cooking with spices. In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m ever so slightly partial to cooking with spices myself. Being a family cook with two daughters (aged five and eight), some people are surprised at how much spice features in my food and I’m often asked how I persuade my children to eat spicy food or whether I have to prepare them separate meals in order to satisfy my personal spice cravings. Thankfully my girls are pretty adventurous most of the time. They were introduced to spices when I was weaning them onto solid foods, and possibly even earlier – when they were in the womb. (Both babies were overdue and I consumed an awful lot of spicy curries in those final days of pregnancy hoping to bring on labour!) Jess and Mia might not always be up for hotter, pungent spices but they’re more than happy to tuck into foods flavoured with spices like coriander, cumin, paprika, cardamom, turmeric, cinnamon – the list goes on. Family food doesn’t have to be bland food. So through this new challenge, I plan to offer you some of the beautifully spiced foods I like to feed my family – and I hope you will join in and share your favourite spicy foods too. Every month there will be a different theme; sometimes a specific spice, other times a particular world cuisine or type of food.

November’s challenge: cooking with chillies

To launch The Spice Trail, our first month’s theme is Cooking with Chillies and I’m really excited to see what delicious chilli recipes you have up your sleeves. My husband and I are both self-confessed chilli-heads and it’ll be fantastic for us to have a stock of new chilli recipes to work our way through. cooking with chilli Technically, chillies are only classed as a spice when they are dried or powdered, but I’m more than happy to accept recipes this month featuring fresh chillies as well. Quite simply, I love chilli in any form!

Win a Kitchen Nomad Mexican recipe box


Think of chilli and probably one of the first cuisines that comes to mind will be Mexican. That’s why I’ve teamed up with Kitchen Nomad for the winning prize for this first challenge, as their recipe box this month is full of the hot and spicy flavours of Mexico. The recipes in Kitchen Nomad’s Mexican box are from Thomasina Miers, an English cook, writer and television presenter. In 2005 she won the BBC cookery competition MasterChef, and she is founder of the Wahaca chain of Mexican street food restaurants. Dishes include stuffed chillies, black bean soup, rajas tacos and chilli honey crumble. I subscribe to Kitchen Nomad’s boxes and I am thoroughly enjoying working my way thorugh this month’s recipes and ingredients.

How to enter The Spice Trail

spice trail badge square Display the The Spice Trail badge (on the left and also available here) on your recipe post, and link back to this challenge post. You may enter as many recipe links as you like, so long as they feature this month’s key ingredient – chilli (fresh, dried or powdered). Send your recipe URL to me at vanesther-at-reescommunications-dot-co-dot-uk, including your own email address and the title of your recipe or post. The closing date this month is Thursday 28 November 2013. If you tweet your post, please mention #TheSpiceTrail and me @BangerMashChat in your tweet and I’ll retweet each one I see. Feel free to republish old recipe posts, but please add the information about this challenge and The Spice Trail badge. As entries come in, links to these will be added to this page. At the end of the month a guest judge will choose a winning recipe and the winner this month will receive a fabulous Mexican-themed food box from the good people at Kitchen Nomad. The winner will be announced in a monthly round-up of all the entries. All entries will be added to The Spice Trail Pinterest Board. I can’t wait to see what dishes you come up with for The Spice Trail. Any questions, please tweet or email me.

November’s entries:

  1. Slow Cooked Mexican Style Beef from Mamacook
  2. Kinda Vietnamese Chicken Salad from Mamacook
  3. Pineapple, Cinnamon & Red Chilli Frozen Yoghurt from Deena Kakaya
  4. Sweet Lychee and Hot Chilli Dipping Sauce from Deena Kakaya
  5. Chilli Oil with an Indian Accent from Deena Kakaya
  6. Lamb, Butternut & Apricot Tagine from Eat Your Veg
  7. Homemade Harissa from Chef Mireille’s Global Creations
  8. Chilli, Ginger & Persimmon Tarts from Chocolate Log Blog
  9. Slow Cooker Coconut Lentil Curry from Recipes from a Pantry
  10. Lamb Curry from My Golden Pear
  11. Plantain Peanut Soup from Chef Mireille’s Global Creations
  12. Sicilian Style Beef Chilli Pasta from Spurs Cook

  13. Cheryl’s Paella from Bangers & Mash
  14. Chocolate & Chestnut Spiced Loaf from Blue Kitchen Bakes
  15. Vegan Spiced Parsnip Samosa Pies from Allotment 2 Kitchen
  16. Pork Meatballs and Pasta from Searching for Spice
  17. Creamy Vegetable Soup from Chef Mireille’s Global Creations
  18. Tagliatelle with Lamb’s Liver from Bangers & Mash
  19. Smoked Mozzarella & Chipotle Cornbread from Fromage Homage
  20. Chilli con Carne from Jibber Jabber UK
  21. Luchito Honey Glazed Ham from Eat Your Veg
  22. Winter Root Soup with Spiced Tadka from Cook Eat Write

  23. Chilli Beef Pie with Spicy Potato Wedges from Bangers & Mash
  24. Joe’s Homemade Baked Beans from Eat Your Veg
  25. Chilli Con Carne with Black Bean Sauce from Reluctant Housedad’s Recipe Shed
  26. Peri Peri Sauce from My Golden Pear
  27. Scotch Bonnet Sauce from Tales from the Kitchen Shed