This summer, I tried growing tomatillos for a second time. The first attempt was not successful. The tomatillos never grew beyond the size of small marbles. I can not remember the weather that summer, but I would like to think it was a cold, wet one so that my gardening skills were not to blame for the spoiled crop. I am happy to report that a second try appears to be the charm.
I just harvested my first few tomatillos. It can be a challenge to determine ripeness. They grow inside a husk, called a calyx (yes, I looked that up) which hides their size and color. So one must feel them up, so to speak, to determine, by size, if they are ripe. They will also fall off the plant when ripe so the touching and squeezing process is only necessary if you are impatient like me. Today's haul yielded 1/2 lb; enough to make 2 cups of salsa verde. See below.
I think that tomatillos may be a bit obscure for the traditional vegetable gardener, so if you have not grown them this year, fret not. Even Hannaford's carries these babies all year long. Years ago, when we lived in Boston, I could never find fresh tomatillos in the grocery stores so I would buy them canned. I have to admit that canned tomatillos are okay in a pinch. The recipe I use for salsa verde calls for them to be lightly cooked. This almost levels the playing field with the canned ones...almost.
You might be interested to know that tomatillos, like peppers, eggplant and tomatoes are in the solanaceae or nightshade family. Fun fact #2, tomatillos are more nutritious per gram than tomatoes. Checkout http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/3020/2 for all the juicy details.
1/2 lb. fresh tomatillos, husked, or one 13 oz. can, drained
1 garlic clove
1 med. jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1-2 tsp. brown sugar
If using fresh tomatillos, cover in water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 4 or so minutes until the fruit (they are technically berries, like tomatoes) are just becoming soft, but not bursting. Drain and let cool.
In a processor, combine the onion, garlic, pepper and cilantro. Pulse until well chopped, but not blended. Add tomatillos and sugar. Pulse a few times to arrive at salsa-like consistency.
This is a great appetizer to make if you are counting calories...skipping the chips of course. If you want to make it more elaborate, add some chopped avocado and/or some crumbled Queso Fresco. It is great as the sauce for enchiladas, tacos or any other southwestern or Mexican entree.
This can be made several hours in advance. Should be eaten the day you make it. If it sits a bit too long it will start to gel. Just give it a good stir and it will whip back into salsa shape. Makes about 1 cup. Recipe easily doubled or tripled.