TIP OF THE DAY: Tomatillos - THE NIBBLE Blog
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TIP OF THE DAY: Tomatillos

The tomatillo, like the tomato, is an edible berry—it’s the size of cherry tomatoes. (Trivia: the original tomatoes were the size of cherry tomatoes, and were developed into larger sizes).

Round and tart, it is erroneously thought of as a green tomato; and is called a husk tomato, a Mexican tomato and other names.

While both tomatoes and tomatillos originated in Latin America (the tomato in Peru and the tomatillo in Central America), they are second cousins. They share a botanical family, Solanaceae (the Nightshade family), but belong to different genuses.

  • The tomato’s genus and species is Solanum lycopersicum. The tomatillo is Physalis ixocarpa, and is closely related to the smaller, sweeter cape gooseberry.
  • Like the orange-colored gooseberry, the tomatillo is surrounded by a papery husk.
  • The ripe tomatillo can be green, purple, red or yellow.
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    Tomatillos were a staple of Maya and Aztec cuisines. They are still enjoyed today in chili, enchiladas, gazpacho, guacamole, salsa and tostadas, among other specialties.

       

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    Fresh tomatillos in their papery husks. Photo courtesy Good Eggs.

     
    But, you can create a fusion dish, adding it to anything that begs for a tart accent and green color. We just finished the last bite of a tomatillo quiche for breakfast.
     
    COOKING WITH TOMATILLOS

    It’s very easy to cook with tomatillos: They don’t need to be peeled or seeded. Their texture is firm when raw, but soften when cooked.

    You can incorporate tomatillos in different ways:

  • Raw, they add a fresh, citrus-like flavor to sauces.
  • Blanched, they are more mellow. Boil in water for five minutes or until soft. Drain and crush or purée.
  • Fire roasted under the broiler or over an open flame, the charred skins will give sauces a smoky flavor.
  • Dry roast them for an earthy, nutty flavor. Place the tomatillos in a cast iron or other heavy pan; roast over low heat for 20 to 30 minutes, turning occasionally.
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    Just remember to remove the husk and rinse the berry before using tomatillos.

     

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    One of the easiest ways to enjoy tomatillos: Make salsa verde. Poto courtesy DomenicaCooks.com.

     

    WHERE TO START?

  • Start with breakfast: Add tomatillos to omelets, scrambled eggs or Huevos Rancheros; or grill or sauté them and serve as a side with the eggs.
  • Make salsa verde as a condiment for eggs or anything else: fish and seafood, meat and poultry, rice and grains, sandwiches, vegetables.
  • Make corn salad or salsa or guacamole
  • Add them to any Tex-Mex dish.
  • Slice them as a soup garnish.
  • Use them as a drink garnish for Bloody Marys and Margaritas.
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    RECIPE: SALSA VERDE

    For an easy salsa verde, remove the papery tomatillo husks and roast the tomatillos for a few minutes. Then, blend with lime, cilantro and green chiles to taste.

    You can use salsa verde on just about any savory dish, and of as a snack with chips raw vegetables. Turn it into a creamy dip with a bit of sour cream or plain yogurt.

     
    MORE TOMATILLO RECIPES

  • Ají Sauce, a favorite hot sauce in Ecuador and Peru
  • Enchiladas Suizas
  • Gazpacho Verde
  • Salsa
  • Tomatillo Guacamole
  • Tomatillo Guacamole With Roasted Corn
  • Tostadas
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