May is National Salsa Month. Most people think of salsa as red; but how about green salsa?
Some people think, logically, that salsa verde—green salsa—is made with green tomatoes (photo #1).
Actually, it’s made with tomatillos toe-mah-TEE-yoes, a distant cousin of the tomato, a green berry the size of a small cherry tomato. It grows covered in a papery husk (photo #3), like the cape gooseberry (a.k.a. ground cherry).
A tomatillo does look a bit like a little green tomato, but the comparison ends there. The tomatillo is naturally tart, compared with the sweetness of a tomato.
Both plants developed in Mexico, but they are not close cousins. Both are in the Nightshade family*, It’s not in the same genus as tomatoes, though both are in the nightshade family (along with eggplants and peppers).
> HERE’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TOMATOES & TOMATILLOS
Spanish for “green sauce,” salsa verde is made from a base of tomatillos, seasoned with chiles, cilantro and spices.
A salsa verde can be fresh or cooked. It is typically much thinner than a tomato-based salsa roja, and often used as a sauce instead of a dip.
1. REMOVE the husks from the tomatillos. Rinse well and pat dry.
2. BOIL the tomatillos. Place the tomatillos in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the tomatillos with a slotted spoon and pulse in a blender with the other ingredients.
3. SEASON to taste with salt. Chill in the fridge to let the flavors meld.
4. SERVE as a dip with chips, or as a sauce for chicken, fish (photo #2), lamb, pork and vegetables (photo #3).
*While both are members of the Nightshade family, Solanaceae, they have a different genus: Physalis for tomatillos (P. philadelphica) and Solanum for tomatoes (S. lycopersicum).
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