Adventuring with Tomatillos

Feeling a little adventurous this season? Perhaps it’s time to try the tomatillo (toh-m uh-TEE-oh), the green tomato in a husk. Grown all over the western hemisphere, and very popular in Texas gardens, the tomatillo is gaining popularity in our area as well. Not only is it a staple of Mexican cooking, but it also looks fabulous in your garden! The fruit, when hanging on the plant, is often described as looking like Chinese lanterns. Not only can the fruit can be eaten after peeling, when left in its husk, it can be used as decoration. How versatile!


Beautifully ornamental tomatillo

When planting tomatillos, treat just like tomatoes. They’ll need staking or caged to keep them tidy. Plant them in full sun and bury at least half of the plant in the soil. Roots will develop along the buried stem and produce a healthier root ball which will result in a healthier plant and more fruit production. Give them regular water, but let them dry out a little between waterings. Fertilize at planting and then monthly because like tomatoes, these are also heavy feeders. Harvest when the thin papery husks split and begin to peel back.

Tomatillos may be used raw in salsas, guacamoles and salads or diced and cooked in sauces, moles or stews. Cooking enhances the flavor and softens the skin, but the fruit collapses after a few minutes of cooking and becomes a soupy consistency. If you are grilling the fruit, get the grill quite hot first so that the fruit will blacken before it gets too mushy. The blackening provides a smoky flavor in whatever dish you use it. Sounds like a great adventure to me.

Fresh Tomatillo Salsa

Tomatillos should be firm and bright green with dry papery thin husks. When used raw they brighten any salsa!

1 pound tomatillos (husks removed) washed & quartered
½ small red onion, chopped
1 jalapeno chili (ribs & seeds removed for less heat), coarsely chopped
1 cup fresh cilantro
3 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
Coarse salt
In a food processor, combine the tomatillos, onion, jalapeno, and cilantro with the lime juice. Pulse until finely chopped, then season with salt to taste. Serve with chips, over seared fish, or with eggs.


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