Shrimp and Couscous with Garden Guilt Salsa

I’ve mentioned the volunteer tomatillos in the garden, the ones that grew from last year’s volunteers, sprung from the prior year’s intentional planting. That year I planned the garden based on what I was hoping the deer wouldn’t eat, as we didn’t have a fence around the backyard yet, and deer in our neighborhood are known for going to great lengths to lay waste to vegetable plots, even eating pumpkins off people’s porches and scaling our precipitous front steps to feast on my pots of pansies late one fall. So I planted tomatillos and garlic chives and all sorts of things I neither really wanted nor knew what do with if they grew, but the need to cultivate was so compelling that I went so far as to put mint in my raised beds (I laboriously learned the hard way how foolhardy that was).

What I haven’t mentioned is just how proprietary these tomatillos are. They’ve done their best to elbow out everything else by creating a sprawling, yellow-flowering web of entanglement, and they’re fruiting like mad. Last year I made a nice autumnal chicken stew with a bunch and begged my brother to take away the rest, but this year I just kept collecting them with no earthly idea of what I would do until I just couldn’t stand it anymore. I also had a bowl of cherry tomatoes I’d picked almost too many days earlier sitting expectantly on the counter, so here’s how this ended:

Salsa Sorta Verde

1.5 lbs tomatillos, papery hulls removed
3/4 lb cherry tomatoes
1/2 a medium yellow onion
2-3 jalapeños (or serranos, etc.), seeds and ribs removed
4 large cloves garlic
1 large or 2 small limes’ worth of juice

Halve tomatillos and toss with tomatoes and a little olive oil and place cut side down on baking sheets. Broil on high until skins begin to blister and char, 7-10 minutes. Roughly chop onion, peppers, and garlic. Once they’re cool enough, add tomatillos and tomatoes along with any juice they’ve released to a blender with all other ingredients and pulse until roughly smooth (or smoothly rough…whichever you prefer!). Season to taste.

We stirred about a cup of this into two cups of cooked couscous (3/4 c. dry Moroccan couscous added to one cup of boiling water with a chicken bouillon cube dissolved in it) and served it with shrimp, and my husband and I thought it was pretty great. It was also different, which was also pretty great. I’d suggest garnishing with avocado, a scoop of crème fraîche (or plain yogurt), and wedges of lime.

NB: This was too spicy for the children in my house. Well, it was too spicy for the one child who tried it, though he said he liked the flavor and requested that next time I cut the heat, so maybe I’ll add a bell pepper to that broiling pan as a substitute for the raw jalapeño next time the tomatillos overbear. Either way, I think I’ll serve it with a side of pizza because, well, kids. Also. Please wear gloves while working with hot peppers. I always forget, and each time I’m unpleasantly reminded of my mistake because we humans touch our faces WAY more than we’re even aware of. Just not in public anymore.

and my child is still alive.Taalkjx

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