Tomatillo means little tomato in Spanish. What makes themunique in appearance is their paperlike cellulose husk covering that resembles the shape of a small green lantern that hangs downward from the bushy, annual plant on which it grows. Inside the protective husk is a smooth, plump, firm variety of tomato that is usually picked green. When fully ripened, they are actually yellow, but these are rarely brought to market. The husks turn a greenish brown when the fruit is losing its freshness. With their dense, highly seeded interior, tomatillos burst with a distinctive tart, lemony flavor that makes them the perfect ingredient in Mexican dishes such as Salsa Cruda, a fresh salsa dish, as well as Salsa Verde, a cooked green sauce used in many Mexican dishes. Tomatillos also contain a pectin-like substance that thickens the sauce or salsa upon refrigeration. The highly nutritional aspects of tomatillos may surprise you. One medium raw tomatillo contains only 11 calories, yet it packs 91 mg. of potassium. That same little fruit contains 4 mg. of vitamin C, 2.4 mg of calcium, 2.38 mg. of folic acid, and 39 IU of vitamin A. Imagine the benefits if you include several in your recipe.
Storing / Preserving:
Select tomatillos as you would tomatoes, choosing those that are firm rather than soft. The tomatillo will fill the husk out when it is ready to pick. Store them in the refrigerator until ready to use. They will store up to two weeks in good condition. They can be stored longer by making into a sauce or salsa and then freezing.
Preparation / Use Suggestions:
Remove the cellulose husks and wash the tomatillos thoroughly. You'll notice they have a slightly sticky surface. This is normal.
Raw: Tomatillos can be chopped and added to any salads.
Tomatillos make an excellent addition to a raw soup when you want that tangy, lemony touch. Begin with just 1 tomatillo in the blender along with your other soup ingredients, and taste. Add more as needed.
Make your own Salsa Cruda with chopped tomatillos, chopped tomatoes, chopped onions, chopped jalapeno, chopped cilantro, lime juice, and a touch of salt.
Stir fried: Tomatillos can be briefly stir fried in a little olive oil, vegetable broth, or water. They have a high water content so don't add too much liquid. Cook along with some onions, garlic, and bell peppers for a tasty side dish. Season to taste with a little salt and pepper.
Simmered: Salsa Verde is a typical sauce served with enchiladas or burritos. Combine chopped tomatillos, chopped onions, chopped cilantro, chopped garlic, chopped serrano chiles, salt and pepper in a saucepan and cook gently 6 to 8 minutes.