Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Tomatillo - This Year's Great Love

We rarely plant the same tomatoes every year. Despite our promises to ourselves at the end of summer that we will seek out the variety we relished from that year's harvest, by the following Spring we can barely remember our names let alone the tomato we so treasured months before. Every Spring there is an event here in Los Angeles called "Tomato Mania" - it is the Disneyland of tomatoes! There are over 200 varieties! The spectacle of it placates the amnesia and, giddy with the thought of the summer harvest, we end up choosing 7 or 8 random varieties of tomato seedlings.

We love our tomatoes. We relish our tomatoes. But our approach to growing them is a little more scattershot than most. A little more punk rock, if you will. We put them in our organically composted ground. We give them a proper support system. Too much water. And then watch them mature with the same eagerness and enthusiasm as our 6 year old daughters.

On this year's tomato adventure we discovered the Tomatillo. It is a gorgeous plant. It produces hundreds of beautiful green fruit wrapped in delicate husks. You know they are ripe when the husks begin to brown and peel away. The fruit is sweet and delicate and delicious sliced on its own.

But they are commonly and, I would argue, best used to make salsa verde. Here is a very simple recipe that is guaranteed to make you drool and impress your friends:

  • Gather all the tomatillos you can and roast them in the broiler for about 5 minutes (until soft). They should be browned but not burnt. Cut large ones in half and place cut side down.
  • You can also roast (2) jalepenos along with the tomatillos. Make sure they are stemmed and seeded. If you like it hot, leave in the seeds.
  • 1/2 cup of chopped white onion
  • Cilantro (maybe 1/2 cup, but you can add more or less)
  • Salt to taste
  • The juice from (1) small lime

Take all of the ingredients, while they are still hot, and put them in a blender . Pulse until pureed. Salt to taste. Cool in fridge (although I eat it warm out of the blender). After a day, this thickens up quite a bit. The salsa will keep for a week in the fridge, well covered.