It’s no secret around here that I love green onions. Growing up, I knew them as spring onions, despite the fact that they seemed to be available year round. I still think of them as a spring vegetable, whatever they’re called. One of my favorite ways to use them is in my Green Onion Pesto and they’re also hidden in my Four Greens Pesto, too. In those recipes, though, the green onions are raw, which means they keep their light, almost herbal freshness.
But I always wondered how their flavor would change if I roasted them first and that initial thought is what launched me into creating this nightshade free roasted green onion salsa verde!
This recipe is a game changer for those of us who can’t tolerate nightshades but also adore Mexican flavors. There are absolutely no tomatoes, tomatillos or peppers in this recipe, but the key thing here is the green onions. I know that sounds weird, but it’s completely true.
Roasted in hot oil until they soften and sweeten, char and deepen, the green onions bring a smoky and rich flavor that fools you into thinking you’re eating nightshades. The color is similar to a roasted tomatillo salsa and along with the classic cilantro and lime accents, you’ll swear you’re enjoying a real deal salsa verde.
When I first thought of experimenting with roasted green onions, I was originally planning some kind of dressing or vinaigrette. Then I came across this charred tomatillo salsa verde recipe on Serious Eats recipe. That recipe called for broiling tomatillos to bring a smoky flavor, but I didn’t want to risk burning my tender green onions, so I adapted my method for getting crispy charred but tender brussels sprouts to roast up my green onions.
The trick in getting plenty of char without overcooking the green onions is to preheat an oiled baking sheet for several minutes, so that they go into a blisteringly hot oven and start charring as soon as possible, rather than sitting in cold oil while it heats up in the oven.
I used some beautiful, huge farmer’s market green onions to make this green onion salsa. Because they were much thicker and larger than standard grocery store green onions, they took about 20 minutes to roast up and char nicely, but if you’re using grocery store green onions, you’ll have to keep an eye on them as I suspect they’ll cook in about half the time!
You want to turn them every five minutes or so and pull them out when the green onions are tender soft, with lots of lovely, deeply golden charred bits. You don’t want them to go too far past that point into blackened territory as that will give you a bitter, burnt flavor. No, thank you!
Unlike the Serious Eats recipe, I needed to add extra liquid, as tomatillos are understandably more moisture rich than the green onions I was using! I used chicken broth for a little extra flavor, but water would do, too. Depending on the saltiness of the broth you use, you may not want to add extra salt, so have a taste first and see.
You can play around with the level of acidity you want by adding extra lime juice, too. Since I was adding extra liquid rather than needing to reduce the salsa down, I didn’t bother with the second cook off in the Serious Eats recipe, either.
You’ll notice this nightshade free green onion salsa is an all out allium-fest, because I added a whole onion and a small head of garlic into the mix, to boot. More roast-y things = more char = more flavor. When it comes to smoky-sweet nightshade free salsa, it’s the char that fools ya!
I chose to make my green onion salsa a little on the thick side. I prefer it that way for scooping on top of proteins, tostones and plantain chips. If you like a thinner salsa, just increase the liquid a little at a time until you’ve got the consistency you want. You will notice that some of the liquid will separate out if you leave the salsa in the fridge overnight, but that’s ok. Just give it a little stir to recombine and it’s ready to go.
If you use homemade broth and add a lot of it, just be aware that all that healthy collagen and gelatin may make the salsa gel a little when it’s refrigerated. If that happens, just pop it back in the blender for a little whirl before serving!
If you’ve got my Taco Seasoning blend to hand, a smidge of that added to the mix is delicious, but this roasted green onion salsa verde has plenty of flavor without. Honestly, this salsa is delicious dolloped any place you used to use your standard nightshade-laden salsa verde. I can’t wait to make a batch of my AIP Loaded Nachos with this stuff added to the mix!
- PREP: Preheat the oven to 450 F / 230 C. Pour the avocado oil onto a rimmed baking sheet. When the oven comes up to temperature, place the oiled baking sheet into the oven until the oil is shimmering hot (although not smoking), about 5 - 6 minutes.
- LAYER: Trim the roots from the green onions. Slice the top of the head of garlic off and discard. Cut the onion in half through the root, then peel and discard the skin. When the oiled baking sheet is hot as described above, use tongs to place the onion on the sheet, cut sides down. Add the head of garlic, cut side up, as well as the green onions. Spread the green onions out so they're as close to a single layer as you can manage. Be careful, as the hot oil may splatter a little when the vegetables are added and make sure none of the green onion tips overlap the edge of the baking sheet, or they will burn.
- ROAST: Roast the green onions, turning every five minutes or so, until they are tender and soft, with golden charred marks throughout. For larger, thicker, wild or farmer's market green onions, this will take 15 - 20 minutes. For thinner, smaller or grocery store green onions, this will take much less time, so you'll want to watch them at around the 10 - 12 minute mark. You'll need to keep an eye on them, because you want lovely golden brown char marks, but you don't want the green onions to burn or blacken as that will result in a bitter salsa. When the green onions are done, remove them from the baking sheet and continue to roast the onion and garlic until the onion halves are a deep golden brown, about 20 - 25 minutes total cook time.
- COOL: Set the garlic aside to cool slightly. Remove the root ends of the onion and roughly chop the onion into a few chunks. Add the green onions (both white and green parts) and onion to a high powered blender, along with the chicken broth, cilantro, lime juice and sea salt. When the garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze the roasted garlic from the cloves and add it to the blender, too. Puree on high until the salsa is evenly combined and smooth. Taste and add additional lime juice or salt if you like. For a thinner salsa, just add an extra splash or so of broth or water.
- STORE: Keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 2 - 3 days or the freezer for a few months. The salsa will separate a little after some time in the fridge, but a quick stir will set things right again.
This post was included in the Paleo AIP Recipe Round Table.
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