I planted tomatillos for the first time this spring, not expecting much. As it turns out, the sprawling, leggy tomatillos are the most productive (and prettiest) things in my garden. The plant produces a small, lemon-yellow flower; after pollination, a greenish, papery capsule replaces the flower, hiding the growing tomatillo from view. When ripe, the husks fade to ivory and split open at the bottom, revealing the pale, green fruit.
A steadily increasing crop sent me searching for tomatillo-centric recipes. My current favorite is a simple roasted salsa, cribbed from Rick Bayless. The lightly cooked salsa comes together in less than 10 minutes, and it is delicious on just about anything. It shines especially bright on black-bean tostadas, layered atop a crisp corn tortilla along with fresh tomatoes, diced sweet onion, and crumbled queso fresco.
- 8-10 medium tomatillos, husked, rinsed, then halved
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 or 2 jalapeno peppers, halved & seeded
- juice of 1/2 lime
- pinch of salt (optional)
- 2-4 T cilantro, chopped
- 1/4 cup sweet onion, very finely chopped
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; place tomatillo halves and garlic into the skillet. Cook for 4-5 minutes, until the tomatillos begin to darken. Flip each piece over and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Place tomatillos & garlic in a food processor along with the jalapeno, lime, and salt. Puree until smooth. At this point, the salsa can be held for several days; shortly before serving, stir in cilantro and onion.