5 reasons to love tomatillos

Published on August 13 2009 - 3:37 PM
I’m growing a small garden in my yard and after some success last summer I decided to get adventurous this year: I added a tomatillo plant.

Tomatillos are tart, plum-size green fruits that look like small, husk-covered green tomatoes. They can be used raw but cooking enhances their flavor and softens their tough outer skin. Since I love them in fresh summer recipes for salsa, guacamole, sauces and more, I was easily inspired to plant a seedling in my garden. Not sure if tomatillos are for you? Here are 5 reasons to love tomatillos:

1. Their flavor is irresistible, with hints of lemon, green apple and herbs. 2. They’re low-maintenance and can even be grown in a big pot. All they need is plenty of water and sun. 3. It’s easy to spot a ripe one: its husk will be broken. The fruit grows faster than the papery husk and rips through as it reaches full size. 4. Vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium and fiber. 5. They’re fit for a king…er, a President. The Obamas are growing tomatillos in the White House Garden.

My plant is growing tall and has lots of flowers on it. I can’t wait for it to bear fruit so I can use my harvest in these fresh tomatillo recipes. (You can also find tomatillos in the produce section of most supermarkets near the tomatoes. Remove the outer husks and rinse well before using.)

Grilled Tomatillo Salsa: Tomatillos take on a sweet, smoky flavor when cooked on the grill. This quick salsa makes a great topping for grilled meats (especially steak!) and fish and it's excellent with eggs and corn tortillas. If you like, add some diced avocado just before serving.

Chicken & Tomatillo Filling is tasty in tamales, tacos or enchiladas. I like to serve it on corn tortillas heated in a skillet.

Catfish with Tomatillo Salsa: Tomatillos provide a distinctive tart flavor to a super-easy salsa that cooks with the catfish in a parchment or foil packet on the grill or in the oven. Plus, no messy clean up! Try this recipe with tomatoes too.

Cornmeal-Crusted Chicken with Pepian Sauce: Tomatillos and pepitas form the basis for pepian sauce--one version of Mexican mole. It pairs well with these crispy chicken cutlets.

Tomatillo Gazpacho: This tomatillo-based gazpacho is gorgeously green with a tart flavor that complements the sweet shrimp and salty olives. Make this meatless by substituting ricotta salata or feta for the shrimp. Serve it with cheese quesadillas.

Michelle is the digital editor for EatingWell Media Group. She puts her background in journalism to work online at EatingWell.com and in EatingWell Magazine, authoring the Good Questions interview with interesting people in the world of food and health.