By Nikki Kuhlmann, “virtual” intern and dietetics student South Dakota State University
Happy Gringo Cinco de Mayo! Celebrate today with a delicious Tomatillo Black Bean Salsa from Jill Nussinow’s cookbook, “Nutrition CHAMPS: The Veggie Queen’s Guide to Eating and Cooking for Optimum Health, Happiness, Energy and Vitality”. This salsa can be spiced up or spiced down to your liking. It tastes great and also covers a lot of nutrition ground.
Tomatillos are the Mexican tomato that are native to Central America and are a staple in many Mexican dishes. This distinct green tomato has a slightly sweeter taste when compared to other tomatoes. Tomatillos have substantial levels of dietary fiber and are low in calories. Dietary fiber has been linked to helping food move through the digestive system, and improving overall bowel health and aiding in regulating blood sugar levels. Tomatillos also contain withanolides (unique antioxidant phytochemicals) that are linked to antibacterial and anti-cancer actions. They also contain vitamins A and C, and flavonoids that likely have cancer-protective effects.
This salsa also contains the highly nutritious black bean. Black turtle beans, known as black beans, add color and texture intrigue and can also benefit your overall health in numerous ways. These beans are popular with vegetarians because of the protein that they supply. They also contain plenty of fiber, are rich in vitamin A, iron, calcium, and manganese, and contain the phytochemical flavonoids. (Just to let you know, the darker the bean, the more antioxidants and phytochemicals it contains. Black beans top the list.)
This flavorful salsa contains a fresh herb known as cilantro. Cilantro is a young leaf of the Apiaceae herb family and is traditionally incorporated into Mexican, Middle Eastern, and Asian cuisines. The unique taste of cilantro has been described as parsley and citrus combined. This herb opens up the flavor in this Tomatillo Black Bean Salsa. The most important nutritional benefit of cilantro is its power to cleanse. It binds to toxic metals in the body and releases them from the tissue so that they can be carried out of the body. Cilantro has antioxidants and might also help lower blood-sugar levels.
One of my favorite additions to this delicious salsa is fresh avocado. Avocados are the go-to ingredient for guacamole. Avocados offer almost 20 different vitamins and minerals in every serving. These include potassium (which aids in blood pressure control), lutein (which preserves eye health), and folate (which encourages cardiovascular health). One avocado provides almost half of the recommended daily fiber intake. This flowering plant also is known for its high monounsaturated healthy fat content to help lower LDL or “bad” cholesterol. While avocados have a lot of nutrition beware of their higher than usual fat content for a plant food. It still counts but it’s a much better fat than any derived from animal sources.
This Tomatillo Black Bean Salsa can be made spicier by adding as much diced jalapeno as you like. Pair this salsa with any type of chips, pita bread, vegetables or serve on top of baked potatoes or brown rice. It’s also a great addition to a burrito. This Mexican-style tomatillo salsa gets two thumbs up and will add a tasty touch to your gringo Cinco de Mayo celebration.
It’s also great all the other days of the year that tomatillos are in season.
Here’s the recipe:
Tomatillo Black Bean Salsa
You can use any bean that you have on hand, or no bean at all and just use the vegetables. Get the best tomatillos that you can. Make it hot, or don’t. It’s up to you. I like to add toasted cumin for the best flavor.
Makes about 1½ cups
1 pound tomatillos, chopped, about two cups of chopped tomatillos
1 cup cooked black beans, rinsed and drained or freshly cooked (soaked black beans take just 6 to 8 minutes to cook in the pressure cooker)
½ cup chopped onion
2–3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced (optional)
1–2 teaspoons toasted cumin powder
½ cup cilantro, chopped
1 small lime, juiced
¼ cup chopped avocado (optional)
Salt and black pepper, to taste
In a medium bowl, combine all of the prepared ingredients except avocado. Stir that in carefully so that the avocado remains intact. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary (adding more lime juice, salt and pepper, etc.).