A few weeks ago tomatillos made their way into my kitchen for the first time by way of my – you guessed it – CSA share from Sweet Pea. Since then I have made a variety of salsas with these lovely little devils, and have this conversation about a dozen times whenever I serve salsa verde:
Snacker: “What is this ? It is really good!”
Me: “It is salsa verde – aka green salsa”
Snacker: “So…it’s salsa made with green tomatoes?”
Me: “No – it’s made from tomatillos”
Snacker: “What the heck are those?”
Then after I explain what a tomatillo is someone else walks into the room and the whole thing starts over again like a never ending Abbott and Costello joke. For some reason I love explaining things so I don’t mind this at all.
Tomatillos are a relative of tomatoes and are called “tomato verde” (green tomato) in Mexico but are quite different from tomatoes. These tangy little gems grow in a husk and are quite firm, even when completely ripe. I find they have notes of citrus and are almost creamy when roasted. They have a very light and pleasant yet totally distinct flavour – I love them!
To prepare them for cooking, just peel off the little paper husk and rinse off the sticky residue – no peeling or seeding needed.
On quite a few sites I have seen storage tips that say you can either leave them on the counter or in the fridge. According to Amanda McCracken (Owner of Sweet Pea C.S.A), this is incorrect. Tomatillos should be stored (in their husks) on the counter. This makes sense as their tomato cousins are never to be put in the fridge as they become mushy and tasteless. I have read a few things saying you can freeze them sliced or whole but have not tried this yet (look forward to a future post all about produce storage!)
There are three main ways to make salsa verde; boiling/blanching the tomatillos, roasting them, or blending them up raw.
I avoided the boiling method as reviewers said it produced a watery salsa. Roasting the tomatillos (along with the peppers and garlic as you can see below) made for a nice flavour, but the color was quite dark. A few batches later, a combination of fresh tomatoes, tomatillos, and roasted tomatoes and tomatillos made the BEST salsa verde ever!
Many thanks to A Cedar Spoon for the inspiration in using the tomatillos raw.
Stay tuned for more tomatillo recipes!
1 pint of tomatillos
Small handful of cherry tomatoes
1 tablespoon of grapeseed or olive oil
1 medium fresh tomato
1/8- 1/2 tsp. chili pepper flakes or 1 fresh pepper* (seeds removed)
Juice of 2 limes or 4 tablespoons
Small handful of parsley
1-2 cloves of garlic, finely minced/crushed/grated
1/2 medium red onion, coarsely chopped
Salt and pepper
Place 1/2 of husked and rinsed tomatillos, the grape tomatoes, and the hot pepper(s) if you are using them. Drizzle oil and some salt and pepper over and roll around to coat.
Bake at 400 f for 10 minutes or until slightly blackened.
Add in with all other ingredients in a blender or food processor.
The garlic and spiciness factor will grow as the salsa is refrigerated, so go easy on these as you can always add more. Good for at least a week in the fridge.
* I have tried this with several different kinds of peppers (cherry bomb, cayenne, etc.) and find the heat level varies so much it is better to just use some red pepper flakes- a jalapeno would be good as well though.