Photo Credit: A. Kane
They may be known by the vernacular name of husk tomato. Despite their green color, they may even resemble a tomato. Like the tomato, the gooseberry and the ground cherry, they are even in the physalis or nightshade family. But don’t be fooled by what you see. These are tomatillos.
Growing up in California, I ate and became familiar with all types of Latin American food at a young age. I especially loved green sauce on my enchiladas, or that tart and spicy salsa verde for dipping tortilla chip after chip. Both of these recipes list tomatillos as their main ingredient. Over the years, tomatillos have become more and more popular throughout the country, and can usually be found in large supermarkets, and most definitely in Latin American grocery stores.
When I went to pick up my CSA (community supported agriculture) box, imagine my delight when lying in a sack, at the bottom of the box, was a pound of tomatillos, grown right here in Connecticut! I immediately got to work. I peeled off the husks, gave the tomatillos a good washing—they are sticky little buggers—and then gave them a ride in my food processor, and soon I had my very own tomatillo salsa.
This is a very basic salsa recipe. It is spicy, acidic, and bursting with fresh flavor. You can eat it with chips or quesadillas, or even simmer it on the stove and pour it on enchiladas for your own Mexican feast.
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed and sliced in half
1 pound tomatillos, husked, cleaned, and quartered
1/2 bunch cilantro, cleaned, stems included
1 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Preheat the broiler of your oven, with the oven rack approximately 4 inches below the flame. Cover a small baking sheet with foil, and place the onions and pepper cut side down to broil for about 10 minutes. Onions should begin to char, and the skin on the jalapeno should blister.
Add tomatillos and cilantro to the bowl of a food processor, and pulse until broken down to small pieces. Add the cilantro, jalapeno, onion and water, and continue to process until fairly smooth. Season with salt, process a final time, and enjoy.
Have you ever tried tomatillos? Chime in below!
Adrienne Kane is a writer and photographer. She is the author of a memoir, Cooking and Screaming, and the food blo, nosheteria.com.