Experimenting With Tomatillos

by in Healthy Recipes, In Season, July 30, 2009

Tomatillo Salsa
Aside from their outer husks, tomatillos look like small tomatoes. Even their names sound the same! Turns out they’re very distant relatives. Find out more about these fabulous fruits — and why I’m their biggest fan.

What the Heck Is a Tomatillo?
Sometimes referred to as “ground cherries” or “jamberries,” tomatillo fruits grow in a protective husk. On the plant, they kind of look like mini paper lanterns. At the market, you’ll typically find tomatillos with their husks still on. Once you bring them home, peel it away to reveal the electric-green or purple skin. The inner flesh is white or light green and dense, yet soft. You can eat tomatillos raw or cooked — I prefer cooking them to tone down their distinctly sour flavor.

The tomatillos you find at the supermarket are mostly imported from Mexico. You may be able find some at your local farmers’ market from late July through September. This year, we decided to grow our own in the backyard garden — the plants have flowered but no fruits yet (fingers crossed!).

The good news is that tomatillos store well. Keep them in the fridge for 1 to 2 weeks with the husks on or up to a month with husks removed. You can also find canned tomatillos that have been blanched and packed in salted water.

Nutrition Facts
One cup of raw tomatillos has 40 calories, 2 grams of protein and vitamin C, as well as niacin (good for energy production) and vitamin K (good for your blood).

What To Do With Tomatillos?
Raw tomatillos are firm and fairly dry, so boiling or roasting helps soften the flesh and bring out their juices. Fresh flavors like onion, garlic, cilantro, lime and jalapeno go well with their bright and tangy taste. Roasted tomatillo salsa is my absolute favorite. I spoon it over scrambled eggs, grilled chicken or fish tacos and serve it up with some tortilla chips. You can also try pickling tomatillos or adding them cooked to sauces or savory breads and muffins.

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