Padma Lakshmi’s new Hulu series, Taste the Nation, couldn’t come at a better time. In each episode of the ten-part docuseries, Lakshmi, also executive producer, travels to a different part of the country and introduces an immigrant community to viewers by way of the food they eat, bringing forth underlying themes of identity and connection.
Between the Taste the Nation press circuit, Lakshmi—known for her 16-year run as the host of Bravo’s Top Chef, three award-winning cookbooks, and a memoir—found some time to share one of her favorite recipes: chile verde with white beans. “I came up with this dish because I love making salsa verde as a dipping sauce, and I wanted to find a way to develop it into the base of a green chili dish,” she tells me. “So I began experimenting."
Padma says she’s been a fan of the tomatillo since she was young and now regularly incorporates them into Indian recipes as well as into chutneys when regular tomatoes are out of season. “I went to school with a lot of Latin friends and must have tasted it at one of their houses. A few years ago, I noticed I much preferred green enchiladas over red, and the reason was the sauce. So I came up with my own version.”
Chili verde with white beans is in heavy rotation at the Lakshmi residence. “Everyone loves this recipe—my daughter, her dad, [and] I’ve served it at dinner parties. It’s always a hit.” Lakshmi classifies the healthy, comforting recipe as a good entry point for those who might not be super confident in the kitchen. “It comes together quickly, and it’s very forgiving.” She also says that while the vegetarian dish stands on its own given its heartiness, the dish also works well with ground turkey, veal, or pork.
I asked Laskhmi, just because I was curious, what her last meal on earth would be, and she had a hard time picking just one dish. “Right now it would probably be a thin-crust pizza from [New York City’s] Spunto, half cheese and half jalapeño. Or a simple roast chicken with mashed potatoes. Maybe fried chicken. Or a simple, comforting bowl of yogurt rice.”
Taste the Nation premieres June 18 on Hulu.
Padma’s Green Chile Verde With White Beans
1 lb. tomatillos, husks removed, quartered
2 avocados, peeled and pitted
4 jalapeño chiles
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
4 Tbsp. lime juice
2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
4 cloves garlic, divided
2 Tbsp. sesame seeds, divided
3 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. olive oil, divided
Salt to taste
2 medium yellow onions, diced
1 Tbsp. dried Mexican oregano
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 lb. cooked cannellini beans (Note: Dried beans that have been cooked are preferred. If using canned, rinse off canning liquid.)
2 cups water or vegetable stock
Juice of 1 Lime (optional)
In a blender, combine tomatillos, avocados, jalapeños, cilantro, lime juice, vinegar, 2 garlic cloves, 1 Tbsp. sesame seeds, 2 tsp. olive oil, and salt. Purée until smooth. (Note: This makes a great salsa verde on its own, so you may want to double the ingredients for this step and use the extra half of the tomatillo sauce as a dipping sauce for other savory treats!)
In a heavy soup pot, heat 3 Tbsp. olive oil over medium heat. Slice remaining 2 garlic cloves in half, and cook for 1 minute. Add onions, Mexican oregano, cumin, red pepper flakes, and remaining 1 Tbsp. sesame seeds; cook until onions are translucent, 4 to 5 minutes.
Add the tomatillo sauce, beans (if using canned beans, wait until the last 10 minutes of step 4 to add the beans; otherwise they will fall apart) and water or stock. Bring to a gentle boil.
Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring often. Stir in the lime juice just before serving.
In our column That Thing I Always Cook, women you admire—chefs, designers, actors, reality stars, influencers, and more—offer up the story behind their favorite recipe, along with how to make it yourself—something we could all use right about now. Read them all here.
Originally Appeared on Glamour