Forgive me, I grew up in the North Pole, and tomatillos are brand new to me. The first few times I encountered them whole, I had no idea what they were. They looked kind of ornamental – little green lanterns I might put next to the miniature pumpkins on the coffee table. I’d heard of a tomatillo sure, and no doubt consumed them in burrito form, but had never come across the whole fruit until recently.
Needless to say, it surprised me when John brought home two crates of them from work the other day which he had rescued from the brink of death (a.k.a being ploughed in.) I had no idea they grew outside South and Central America, let alone in Lynn, Massachusetts. Two crates of tomatillos for household in which one half of the residents have never touched/eaten/cooked a fresh tomatillo before seemed a little over ambitious. “They freeze well,” John informed me.
Warily this weekend, I dived into the tomatillos. At John’s suggestion, I roasted them simply alongside garlic, onions, and a jalapeño and then diced the whole lot in the food processor with a little lime juice and cilantro, and presto: tomatillo salsa. Brightly acidic, spicy, and savory, turns out those “green lanterns” make some serious salsa, a fact that is news to no one except me.
Just when I was starting to miss all those fresh summer tomatoes, long since laid to rest in jars and Ziplock freezer bags for the winter, in marches the tomatillo; which, heartier than the tomato, is harvested later in the season. We ate the salsa alongside some shredded chicken in what I can only call a way too complicated for a Monday night Enchilada, for which you can find the recipe here. But, this simple and tasty salsa would be fine company for any chicken, fish, sandwich, scrambled eggs, or simple tortilla chips.
Adapted from Tyler Florence.
For the Salsa
2 lbs tomatillos, husks removed and roughly chopped
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, roughly chopped
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp ground cumin
¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
The juice of half a lime
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss together the tomatillos, onion, garlic, jalapeño, salt and olive oil on a sheet pan. Roast 20-25 minutes.
Remove from the oven and transfer to the bowl of a food processor. Add the cumin, cilantro, and lime juice. Pulse until well chopped and combined with some texture still remaining. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.