We started growing these in 2014. Tomatillos or tomate verde are a member of the same plant family as tomatoes but are more closely allied to the “Cape Gooseberry” or Physalis. When the husks are removed, they look like a green tomato, but the inside is full of seeds and they have a bitter-sweet, tangy flavour.
They are not at all hot and you can use them to make a sauce to cook a bean, pork or chicken casserole in the same way as their red cousins, flavouring with chilli, lemon and fresh coriander or they can be finely chopped and mixed with herbs to make a marinade for fish. However they are a staple of Mexican cooking, so I picked a bag and went to see my mexican friend, Magdalena, who is from Mexico city. This is what she did.
First she peeled off the husks and washed them as they have a bitter tasting, sticky coating. She explained that to make salsas, they are used in two ways, either raw or cooked and set about making different styles of salsa verde (green sauce).
The first was a very simple raw salsa – chopped tomatillos with green chilli, spring onion, coriander and lemon juice. She added salt and a little sugar to taste. This could be served as a chutney but we ate it then with tortilla chips and refried beans. The taste can be varied to suit your prefence, Magdalena has a whole array of chillies, dried and tinned, all imparting a different flavour. Next, she took a heavy based pan and put it on a high heat. Without oil or water she roasted the tomatillos still in their husks and chilli, turning them frequently until they had begun to char. This was for a cooked sauce finished with avocado.
- 5 tomatillos roasted (about 250g)
- 1 green serrano chilli roasted
- 1 spring onion (10g)
- 1 large clove garlic
- 2 Tablespoons lime or lemon juice
- 20g coriander leaf
- 1 avocado
- salt and sugar to taste
Remove the husks from the charred tomatillos and wash carefully. Crush the garlic with a little salt and add 1 teaspoon of the lemon juice. Leave for 5 minutes. Roughly chop the onion (with its green leaves) and the coriander. Stone the avocado and reserve about a third, brushing some lemon juice over the cut surface.
Put all the ingredients in a small processor and pulse until chopped but still coarse. Add salt and sugar to taste. Pour into a small bowl. Slice the reserved avocado and place over the surface. Garnish with a slice of lemon or lime and a sprig of coriander.