Tomatillos are small, round fruits resembling little tomatoes bearing a papery outer covering. They are members of the nightshade family, along with tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers. Though they are usually green, they can ripen to be any number of other colors, including yellow, purple, and red.
Tomatillos grow throughout the Western Hemisphere, and are a popular staple food in Mexico, where they are often called “tomato verde” or “green tomatoes” (not to be confused with American “green tomatoes,” which are simply unripe tomatoes). Other names include husk tomato, husk cherry, Mexican tomato, jamberry, and ground cherry.
Nutritionally, tomatillos are low in calories and rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, niacin, potassium, manganese, and healthy omega 6 fatty acids.
Green tomatillos usually have a slightly tart flavor, though other colors can be sweet enough to be used in jams. They can be eaten raw, either whole or chopped into salads, and are most popularly used to make a spicy green salsa (salsa verde) and other sauces.
Here are a few tomatillo recipes to help you get to know these “little tomatoes”:
1 pound tomatillos, husked
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 chili pepper, minced
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
2 cups water
Place tomatillos, onion, garlic, and chili pepper into a medium saucepan. Season with cilantro, oregano, cumin, and salt; pour in water. Bring this mixture to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until the tomatillos are soft, about 15 minutes. Using a blender, purée the tomatillos and water in batches until smooth.
Tomatillo Chicken Soup
2 whole chicken breasts, skinless
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound tomatillos, husked and quartered
1 Russet potato, peeled and quartered
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 chili peppers, stemmed and seeded
4 cups chicken stock
3 cups water
Kosher salt and ground peppercorns to taste
1/4 cup sour cream
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
In a large pot over medium heat, add chicken, onion, garlic, tomatillos, potato, oregano, chili pepper, chicken stock, and water; cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until chicken is tender and the meat falls from the bone, about 30 minutes. Remove chicken from the pot set aside to cool. Once the chicken has cooled, remove the bones and shred. Remove the soup pot from the heat and let the vegetables and broth cool slightly. Purée the vegetable and broth in batches in a blender. To serve, spoon a small amount of shredded chicken into soup bowls and pour over it. Top with sour cream and cilantro.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb. fresh tomatillos, husked
2 green peppers, halved and seeded
5 scallions, chopped
2 green chilies, roasted, seeded, and chopped
1 garlic clove, roasted
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 cup vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon sugar
4 tablespoons plain yogurt
1 tablespoons chopped cilantro
Set aside two tomatillos, 1/2 green pepper, and two scallions. Chop the remaining tomatillos, scallions, and peppers. In a food processor, purée the chopped vegetables, garlic, and lime juice until smooth. Add vegetable stock and season to taste with salt, pepper, and sugar. Dice and add in the reserved vegetables. Top with cilantro and yogurt.