I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, good plant-based food is all about the sauce. If you have a solid list of simple, flavor-packed sauces, you’re always well on your way to something delicious and vegan-friendly. Add cooked grains or a tortilla to the mix, prep some produce in a variety of ways (pickled, roasted, raw, shredded, diced, etc) and finish with protein (tofu, beans or seitan, maybe) and miscellaneous extras (like toasted nuts, dried fruit or some olives). Every element plays a part and plays it well, but the true star is always the sauce.
I first discovered this creamy salsa verde style sauce at a fast-casual salad restaurant in NYC called Chop’t, a favorite for corporate employees on their lunch breaks and the after-yoga crowd. Their salads are anything but boring, especially when tossed with my go-to dressing option – their Mexican Goddess Dressing. A creamy mix of roasted tomatillos, ripe avocado, cilantro and lime juice, it’s super simple to make at home and good for not just salads. Use this versatile and flavorful sauce on grain bowls, nachos, veggie burgers and tacos, or simply as a dip for chips and crudités.
Creamy Tomatillo-Avocado Sauce
makes about 2 cups
1 lb tomatillos, papery skins removed, rinsed
1 jalapeno, halved, seeds/ribs removed for mild heat
4 cloves garlic, gently crushed/peeled
1 large or 2 small ripe avocados
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves and tender upper stems
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Add the tomatillos, jalapeño and garlic cloves to a parchment-lined sheet pan, keeping everything close together. Toss with olive oil and salt if desired (not necessary though). Roast for 15 minutes. Flip, rearrange and roast for another 5-10 minutes. The tomatillos should be very soft and browning but not yet bursted. Allow to cool.
Using a blender, food processor or immersion blender, blend tomatillos, jalapeño and garlic with peeled/pitted avocado, lime juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil (optional) and 1.25 teaspoons salt (or to taste). Blend until super smooth. Add cilantro leaves and blend until cilantro is finely chopped. Season with salt, to taste.