Thursday, May 21, 2009

Burnt-Out Offering - Black Bean, Tomatillo and Green Olive Salsa

Black Bean, Tomatillo and Green Olive Salsa

When does "soon" become "later," and "later" become "whenever," and "whenever" become the dreaded "never"?

Have you ever suffered from the dual bains of boredom and procrastination, where nothing excites your fancy and nearly everything feels a chore? I would have thought it was just me, except for the recent confessions of Sra and Cynthia, and the resonating comments each of their posts provoked. Apparently, there is something in the water.

After a lovely and desperately necessary spring break away from blogging, and with the best intentions to charge forward with renewed vigor earlier this month, I have found myself living almost exclusively in my head as far as blog posting is concerned: pondering ideas, developing recipes and envisioning photo compositions, but hardly executing any edibles worth a nibble, let alone writing about and presenting them as the best I can offer. Once I finally got cracking in the kitchen, a string of absurdly comical, almost cosmic, failures threatened to distance me further from that "slew of recipes" I had alluded to in an earlier post.

The only saving grace was a ravishingly salty and sassy jolt of fresh salsa, so good that I scarfed it down before I could artistically arrange it in a bowl. So very good, in fact, that I made it a second time, and, again, scarfed it down before I could get it into that bloody bowl. It is said by fairies, elves and other supernatural types that the third time is the charm. Well, it's true, and it had better be; that something in the water was beginning to taste suspiciously of Kool-Aid.

Black Beans
Black Turtle Beans


Black Bean, Tomatillo and Green Olive Salsa – My own recipe

[While I like a moderately smoky fire-roasted flavor, you might prefer to char all the tomatillos, or forgo the process entirely. It is a matter of individual taste.]


1 ½ pounds tomatillos

1 cup water or unsalted vegetable stock
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
3-5 serrano peppers, depending on your heat tolerance (you can substitute with jalapeños)
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped; and a few whole leaves to garnish
2 cups cooked, drained and rinsed black beans
¾ cup sliced Manzanilla olives, with or without pimento stuffing
Additional salt or brine from olive jar to taste (optional)


Husk and rinse tomatillos under warm water, gently rubbing off their sticky residue with a paper towel. With the tip of a sharp knife, cut out the stem ends and discard them. With long-handled tongs, hold half the tomatillos, one at a time, over a stove burner flame to char the skin, turning them frequently until they are blistered and begin to collapse. [A well-ventilated kitchen will prevent setting off your smoke alarm.] Cut all the tomatillos into quarters and add to water or vegetable stock in a large saucepan. Bring contents to boil, then lower heat to simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomatillos are soft but still holding some shape. The mixture will be very watery. Leave to cool while you prepare the remaining ingredients.

Over low heat, warm the oil in a skillet, then add the onion and garlic, stirring frequently to brown evenly. Do not let the onions become very soft; you want to retain some crunchiness. Remove from skillet onto separate holding dish. Stem and slice the peppers. You can use them raw or shrink and blister the slices briefly in the skillet. I find raw peppers are much hotter on the tongue.

Pour tomatillos and their liquid into a blender or food processor, pulsing a few times to unify the texture without turning it into purée; leave it somewhat chunky. Pour into a large bowl, then add all remaining ingredients, stirring gently to mix without breaking the beans. The salsa will appear too runny for dipping chips into. Cover and transfer to the refrigerator to chill for a few hours to allow the flavors to develop. During this time, the starch from the beans will thicken the excess liquid. Stir gently. Taste for salt, adding it incrementally from the shaker or as small spoonfuls of olive brine. Stir again and garnish with whole cilantro leaves. Serve with tortilla chips, corn bread or corn sticks. Better second or even third day, if you can keep away from it that long.

Makes about 5 cups.

Black Bean, Tomatillo and Green Olive Salsa


This recipe is for Lori Lynn of Taste with the Eyes, hosting the current My Legume Love Affair - Eleventh Helping. Lori Lynn will be delighted to receive your bean-boasting recipes and enter you in a random drawing for a charming cookbook prize*.

Been There, Done That ~
Salsa Verde
Olive and Pomegranate Relish

On a separate note, Astra of Food for Laughter was kind enough to honor me with an award.

Thanks, dear Astra! There are many bloggers whose work I admire and enjoy for a number of reasons, too many to count. A few quickly come to mind, but cannot be considered a comprehensive list. No one is obligated to take up the tag; let your time, energy and interest guide you. Here's to Soma, Gabe and Lyndsey, Venus, Ramki, and Christine. I will acknowledge more awards and memes in coming posts. Thanks so much for the continued kudos.

* Bears Repeating: I do not receive free nor discounted goods/services from any enterprise. All prizes offered are at my personal expense without commercial influence. Any references to products, brands or retailers, whether to further a story line or direct a reader to additional information, are made at my independent discretion.


  1. Love love love olives mmmm

  2. That looks really sharp-tasting, as you said.Your pix managed to bring out that quality of the food. Also like your turtle beans pic.
    I managed to finish what was in my fridge today, except for a bit of fish curry - have to see it goes over to Uncle else it will lie here till I come back from a 4-day trip I'm going on and then be discarded even tho' it will be unspoilt. I'm really unhappy with not being excited with what I make, despite trying hard for every single meal.

  3. Oh, hey, lovely banner, just noticed it. Did you do it yourself?

  4. I think it's not only fine but a good idea to take a break from blogging when you find you're not inspired. Then you'll come back with an idea like this one (using green olives in tomatillo salsa = brilliant!)

  5. What a unique combination! I am trying to imagine the taste.. tart with earthy of beans & the olives..

    The new banner looks awesome.

    Thanks Susan :-D

  6. Heh--I know what you mean about eating something before getting it photographed... I made a rhubarb pie that I *really* should have created a post about, but suddenly we found ourselves facing an empty pie pan. How did that happen? ;)

    And thanks for another black bean salsa recipe for my files!

  7. oh looks so good. That happens to me too.

  8. Welcome back! The photos are wonderful, as usual. Photography is not always the top priority when we finish preparing a dish. You know, I have never used tomatillos: I must bridge this gap.

  9. Oooooh,....Susan!! This looks so terrific!
    YUmmie! Congrats on your award!!

  10. There really IS something in the water. This, I know for certain.

    Salt-sour-crunch combinations always make me salivate. The black and green are reallysomething together. Very striking dish.

    Love the new banner!

  11. I can't wait to try this one. So gorgeous!

  12. sorry to hear you were feeling burnt out, but you still managed to whip up something so delectable and pretty :)

  13. We all need a break from blogging and creating new recipes. That said, you have been missed. Love this salsa. Anything will olives certainly gets my attention.

  14. This salsa sounds really good! I like the olives in there.

  15. Like Sra, said, your new banner looks beautiful.
    Boredom (I am not sure it is this, though) and procrastination describes what I'm feeling too. Looks like a lot of us are having it. Is it viral? :)

  16. Welcome, Rose! Thanks! I could make a meal of olives alone. ; }

    Sra - Thanks. Motivation hasn't been my strong point these days, either. And, yes, I did design the banner myself - took forever, but now I have another hard-won notch in my belt. Glad you like it. Thanks. : D

    Thanks, Kalyn. Without breaks, it becomes almost irresistible and inevitable to crash and burn.

    Soma - Thank you very much!

    Hi, Ruhama! As much as I enjoy my camera, it does stand between me and my food. ; )

    Thanks, Snooky. We are probably all members of the same club.

    Simona - Thank you. Sometimes the camera must be kept on the back burner. Tomatillos are very different than green tomatoes - hope you find them and try them out for yourself.

    Hi, Sophie! Thank you very much!

    Lucy - Thanks. What we are experiencing is very common among blogs of any duration.

    Thanks, Dragon!

    Wiffy - Thanks, dear girl.

    Lisa - Thank you. I *knew* the olives would get to you. : )

    Welcome, Hugging the Coast! Thank you! Good to see you!

    Thanks, Kevin. The olives add that extra zap of salt.

    Aparna - Thank you very much. I'm not sure that it's boredom, either, but the self-imposed pressures of blogging and the constant quest for something new and different can have us treading water. Let's hope the virus can be cured. : }

  17. I hear you loud and clear and can definitely seems that everyone these days are going through some kind of phase of review = to renew ?Maybe its a natural part of the spring ''cleaning'' season..?
    Loved your Black bean dish,though I am not familiar with tomatillos."happy renewal".. :) Mia

    Glad you got it back.
    YAY for MLLA!