Tomatillo Salsa

Tomatillos and tomatoes
This summer has been a cracking summer for tomatoes. Far better than last year when the dreaded blight descended and laid waste to our garden crop. Its hard to describe what it feels like when you step out onto the patio in the morning and discover that some filthy fungus has destroyed your precious babies overnight. But just try to imagine a combination of Cliff Richard, the end of Watership Down and the realisation that you've been talking to someone for 10 minutes with a stringy booger hanging from your left nostril. That is the kind of deep rooted horror, despair and anguish I am talking about. It was horrible but like I said, this year has been very good and we are currently brimming with different varieties and shades of healthy, life-affirming fruit.

I am particularly happy because a rogue packet of seeds discovered at the bottom of a shoebox has introduced and yielded a brand new tomato, well one that I have never grown before anyway, which is the exciting and daring tomatillo. Curious little things are tomatillos. Rough research (Google) tells me that they were cultivated in Mexico and whilst being part of the same genus as tomatoes and the nightshade family, these green berries have a lot in common with physalis'sss. That equally curious orange fruit that comes wrapped in a papery husk and used for decoration on cheeseboards at Christmas time. Apparently tomatillos can be quite tricky to grow so to have some success is also exciting. I just stuck the seedlings in the ground and near our cherry tree and up they shot, flowering along the way. I must have the magic touch.

Once cut in half and tasted you can see the association with gooseberries as the flesh is quite dense and they lean more towards the sour rather than juicy sweet. As such, lots of recipes online call for relishes and salsas, which is hardly surprising given that they come from Meh-he-co (olé). So I simply took some, unwrapped them from their skins and blistered under a hot grill with some homegrown peppers, chillies and onion to impart a smokey flavour. It then took a quick blitz, a squeeze of lime juice and a sprinkle of chopped coriander and in minutes I had a fiery, piquant sauce fit for a King. A King that might wear a sombrero at the dinner table for the occasion. That sort of King.

Unfortunately my forays into Mexican cuisine at home haven't ventured that far. I've made supermarket kit enchilladas and fajitas before, pseudo quesadillas with bread wraps and tried out a mole once or twice, from scratch. But more often than not chilli con carne reigns supreme because the twins do love a kidney bean. Actually, is chilli con carne even Mexican? Anyway, the main problem is that I often have to temper the spiciness for the sake of delicate palates. This side salsa seems to have solved the problem. A handsome dollop, a quick stir and boom, a Mariachi band dances the hot-step on my taste buds.

The tomatillos have all gone now and all I have left are bags and bags of green tomatoes which could possibly do the trick but I suspect they would make the salsa too watery, too anodyne. I might give it go though. Because who knows if I will ever be able to grow tomatillos again.

Tomatillo Salsa

10 tomatillos, cut in half (or green tomatoes???)
2 green peppers, cut in half
1 onion, cut in half
Variety of chillies (I used regular red nondescript ones and a finger chilli)
2 limes, cut in half
Large bunch of coriander, rough chopped
Salt and pepper


Place the tomatillos, peppers, onion and chillies cut side down on a baking tray and place under a hot grill. Leave under for about 5 minutes, turning halfway through, until they begin to burn and blister. Take out and leave to cool slightly. Then place in a food processor to blitz. Add the lime juice with a squeeze and stir in the coriander. Season to taste and serve with most Meh-he-can foods (or whatever you fancy).
Garden produce
Not so juicy
Salsa (olé)


Kavey said…
Tomatillos definitely not tomatoes, as you say, they are part of same family but closer to physallis than tomatoes.

We've been growing some too, first time this year, after a visit to Edible Ornamentals courtesy of Chipotle, who commissioned EO to grow them for them, so they could use fresh rather than tinned in their recipes. :-D
Alicia Foodycat said…
A year or so ago I used green tomatoes instead of tomatillos in a recipe which asserted I could do that. It tasted OK but, um, the plumbing was put to the test for the next 12 hours.
Shu Han said…

I have no idea how to get hold of tomatillos , so will probably try these with green toms anyway...
Food Urchin said…
Kavey - So did you find them easy to grow? Am tempted to buy more seeds for next year.

Foodycat - Ah........but was it nice? The recipe I mean.

Shu Han - I have never seen them sold before but good luck!
kerstin said…
We at the Secret Garden Club have been growing them for three years. We love tomatillos. So frustrating we can't get hold of fresh ones easily.
Kavey said…
Daisy, I'm not sure actually as Joanna from Edible Ornamentals kindly gifted us two plants when we went to visit her nursery. So we had a huge headstart.

We did learn that they need two plants, for pollination...

Oh and we grew ours outdoors, because Jo mentionned that they seed very well on their own so we're hoping we get more in the same spot next year... IF we can identify the little seedlings in amongst all the bloody weeds.

I'm thinking to harvest them soon...

Popular Posts