Mexican food is a staple of my diet, and living in New York City I always took for granted that I could walk down to the corner store and pick up a pound or two of tomatillos any time I wanted them. Now that I live in a much smaller town, I’ve found that tomatillos can be much harder to come by. When I signed up for my community garden plot, tomatillos were at the top of my list of things to grow.
Tomatillos are easy to grow, and don’t seem to be bothered by the many pests and diseases that beset tomatoes. And I love the way the plants look, with their little paper lantern-like husks dangling from the branches. This time of year I’m harvesting at least a pint a day, and they will keep on going until the frost. This year I planted mostly the more common yellow-green variety, as well as couple of purple ones. Tomatillos are ready to harvest when they’ve filled out their papery husks and the husk begins to split. They are generally harvested while they are still green and tart, but I like to let a just a few ripen a bit more to add a little bit of sweetness to my tomatillo sauce.
Tomatillos have been piling up on my kitchen counter for the past couple of weeks, so tonight I made a big batch of roasted salsa verde. This salsa is great on tacos and quesadillas, or with eggs, or in one of my favorite meals, enchiladas verdes. It’s very simple to make, and you can vary the proportions to suit your taste. This makes a pretty big batch, but it freezes very well.
About 2 pounds tomatillos, husks removed
1 large onion, quartered
3 large cloves of garlic, unpeeled
2 or 3 jalepeños or other green chiles, seeded or not seeded, depending on how hot you like your salsa
olive oil or vegetable oil
a big handful of fresh cilantro, finely chopped
juice of 1 or 2 limes
Preheat your broiler. Spread the tomatillos, onion, garlic, and chiles of a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with a little oil and sprinkle with salt. Place the tray of vegetables under the broiler and cook, turning the vegetables occasionally as they begin to char, until everything is charred and beginning to soften. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. When the garlic cloves are cool enough to handle, peel them and then put all of the vegetables in a blender or food processor. Pureé until the mixture is just slightly chunky. Then stir in the cilantro and add lime juice and a bit more salt to taste.
I lament the fact that I never learned to cook real Mexican or Tex-Mex when I lived in Oklahoma. Now that I’m in New England, it’s nearly impossible to get. We should give the tomatillos another go in next year’s garden…
Great, easy recipe – maybe there’ll be some at the Farmer’s Market on Saturday!
Looks wonderfu! We’ve never grown tomatillos, but I’m tempted. Think they’ll grow in western PA?
If I can grow them in Massachusetts, I’m sure you could grow them in PA. They need basically the same conditions as tomatoes, but are much less fussy. They really are one of the easiest things to grow!
I’ve only recently heard of tomatillos, and I now want to grow them, oh and taste them! I was only thinking today that I need to source some seeds that could maybe cope with our climate, if not I will need to make some room in the greenhouse. Thanks for the extra inspiration :)
Hmm, yes they may be a bit tricky to grow in your climate, but if you’re able to grow tomatoes I think it’s worth a try.
I’d never heard of tomatillos before I read your post. Obviously, the boat with them on got lost somewhere in the Atlantic!
Mexican food has become very popular throughout the US in the past 20 years or so, and tomatillos have become more common. But when I was growing up in the Northeast, it was all pretty exotic. I certainly never heard of a tomatillo growing up! I’m sure one of these days the tomatillo will make it across the pond!
Maybe your blog with be the inspiration…. I’m going to look into availability of seeds and see if I can have a go next year :)
I just love when all of this great stuff is just a few steps out your back door. My grocery bill is a lot smaller and eating is much more pleasurable.
Isn’t it wonderful? It makes me happy just looking at the fresh veggies beginning to pile up on the kitchen table!
It’s a nice mess to have!
This makes me want to go to the nearest farmers’ market and buy tomatillos…
THAT is my very favorite salsa in the world!
I’ve never thought of roasting the tomatillos to make my verde- I’ll have to give that a shot!