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Farmer’s Table: Tomatillo Salsa

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By Susan Maslowski

This is the time of year when I try to use last year’s frozen produce to make room for this year’s bountiful harvest.

Last year, just before the first frost, I picked a bag of tomatillos. I had no time to process them. I wasn’t sure what I would do with them, so they were husked and frozen. For months, the bag has been taking up a lot of space in the freezer, so I decided to use the tomatillos in a roasted green salsa. It is now my favorite tomatillo recipe.

Tomatillos are also called Mexican husk tomatoes, because an inedible, paper-like husk surrounds the green-to-purple fruit. I have grown both green and purple varieties.

I learned that I only needed to buy one packet of seeds in my lifetime, because the plants will re-seed themselves. I generally save the hardiest plants in the spring to ensure I always have more than an ample supply of tomatillos. One plant produces a lot of fruit.

The fruit of the tomatillo can range in size. Some are the size of cherry tomatoes, while others can be the size of a small apricot. The interior of a tomatillo is meatier and less juicy than a regular tomato.

Tomatillos are the key ingredient in Salsa Verde. They have a slightly tart taste like a green tomato, and they have a high pectin content that helps thicken the sauce.

Tomatillos are ripe when they fill out the papery husk. They should be firm to the touch. The plants are drought tolerant, which makes them an easy plant to grow.

One of the things that I find unappealing is the sap-like coating that covers the fruit. When husking, it leaves a sticky residue on fingertips.

Tomatillos are easier to cook than regular tomatoes. They do not need to be peeled or seeded. They will soften when cooked.

Some Mexican sauces call for raw tomatillos, which impart a citrusy flavor. I found I do not like raw tomatillos and prefer them cooked. Roasting the tomatillos with the other ingredients for this salsa gave a nice, earthy flavor.

Tomatillo Salsa

1¼ pounds tomatillos, husked and rinsed

1 large onion

5 cloves garlic

2 jalapeno peppers

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon salt

½ cup cilantro

½ lime

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Peel and chop onion into quarters. Place tomatillos, onions, garlic cloves and jalapenos on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with oil.

Roast in the oven for 15 minutes, until the exteriors are blistered, but the insides of the tomatillos are still slightly raw.

Cut the jalapenos in half and scrape out and discard the seeds.

Place the tomatillos, onions, jalapenos and garlic in a food processor and pulse until smooth.

Add the cumin, salt, and cilantro. Pulse to incorporate ingredients into tomatillo mixture.

Stir in lime juice and serve with salsa with tortilla chips or on top of tacos or nachos.

For questions about recipes or other information, contact Susan Maslowski at mudriverpottery@aol.com or go to our websites at metrokanawha.com and putnamreview.com. Susan also has a Farmer’s Table Facebook page.


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