Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

by Meg Cotner on August 30, 2011

naked tomatillos

Naked tomatillos

One of my favorite summer vegetables – apart from tomatoes – is the tomatillo. Tomatillos are those seemingly green tomatoes that grow with a papery husk around them… but they are not unripe green tomatoes at all! They are actually really different from tomatoes.

tomatillos from El Poblano Farm

With their husks on

They are in the nightshade family – just as tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplants are – but resemble ground cherries more than tomatoes. They are more solid than tomatoes, sometimes a little sticky under their husk, full of tiny seeds and have a tangy taste. They are also very high in pectin, and that helps to thicken salsa verde. Some people like to eat them raw but I don’t care for them that way.

They also have a beautiful flower:

tomatillo flowering

A beautiful yellow and black tomatillos flower

I’ve actually tried growing tomatillos for the past two seasons but have failed for the most part. Even with two tomatillo plants (tomatillos are known as “self incompatible” – they need at least two plants to create fruit), I’ve not been able to get any fruit! I really don’t know why this is. When I had a plot at Two Coves Community Garden, then appeared as volunteers, and I grew a couple of plants. They produced like crazy! I was very happy.

However, it’s relatively easy to find tomatillos at produce stands and farmers markets around here in the summer. A couple of weekends ago, I was at the Socrates Greenmarket and picked up a couple pounds of organic tomatillos. Some of them were so little! Like an inch across. Some were a couple inches across, but there were no giant fruits. They were adorable.

I had time this past weekend to make salsa verde from my tomatillos. I decided to roast them to bring out some of their sweetness (and help activate that pectin), then turn on the broiler to char some of the skins. It worked perfectly.

roasted tomatillos, jalepenos, garlic

Roasted tomatillos, jalepeños and garlic

With the addition of white onion, jalepeños, garlic, and cilantro, I had an amazing, complex tasting salsa verde – sweet and a bit spicy, with a lovely roundness to the flavor. It’s so good, I may have to stop by the market again next weekend and pick up more of them.

This salsa goes well with most any Mexican dish – on meats, in quesadillas, with beans – and also (not surprisingly) is a main ingredient in salsa verde chicken. It freezes well, too.

salsa verde

Roasted tomatillo salsa/salsa verde - the final product

This post is participating in Real Food Wednesday, hosted by Kelly the Kitchen Kop, and Simple Lives Thursday, hosted by GNOWFGLINS.

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