Cristina Martínez and Ben Miller of the beloved restaurant South Philly Barbacoa shared the recipe for this smooth salsa verde with serious depth of flavor. It packs a bit of piquancy from the jalapeños, but the heat is balanced by slightly sweet and tropical notes of green ground cherries (which may be substituted with small tomatillos), while epazote and cilantro give subtly earthy, pleasantly bitter flavors. South Philly Barbacoa served this fresh green salsa alongside lamb barbacoa at an iftar dinner for Ramadan, but it's equally delicious with chicken or beef.

May 2022


Credit: Clay Williams

Recipe Summary

40 mins
25 mins
Makes about 2 2/3 cups


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Cut onion in half lengthwise. Set aside 1 onion half; reserve remaining onion half for another use. Heat a comal or cast-iron skillet over medium. Add ground cherries; cook, stirring occasionally, until charred in spots and starting to soften, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat. 

  • Combine ground cherries, reserved onion half, 2 cups water, jalapeños, epazote, cilantro, garlic, and salt in a large pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high. Remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes. Remove and discard epazote. 

  • Transfer ground cherry mixture to a blender. Secure lid on blender, and remove center piece to allow steam to escape. Place a clean towel over opening. Process until smooth, about 30 seconds. 

  • Wipe large pot clean. Add oil to pot, and heat over medium-high. Carefully add pureed ground cherry mixture. (Sauce will splatter.) Bring to a boil, and boil, stirring often, until salsa thickens slightly and you can see bottom of pot when stirring, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Season with additional salt to taste. Serve hot or at room temperature.