When we planted our community garden I think it’s fair to say that we got a bit carried away with the tomatillos. I’m not sure if we didn’t fully realize how big the plants get or maybe we didn’t grasp the sheer amount of fruit that one plant yields. I claim ignorance on this one because not only had I never grown tomatillos before, but I embarrassingly admit, I’d never even cooked with them.
So then I was equally baffled when I found myself with a huge bag of these little green balls at the end of the summer. I poked at the papery outside that was like a paper lantern, getting my fingers stuck to the fruit inside. What was this odd thing and what in the world do I do with it?
As luck would have it I happened to catch Rick Bayless’s cooking show on PBS that Saturday morning and it was like he read my mind. Not only did he demystify the tomatillo, he made this easy salsa verde that was so full of flavor that I was instantly won over. I was ready to run right back to the garden and fill up another bag, but alas the first frost had done them in so this little taste (along with the couple jars I was able to sock away) will just have to hold me until next summer when this time I have a feeling it will be me suggesting that we plant tomatillos in our community garden.
Roasted Tomatillo Salsa (aka Salsa Verde)
Inspired by Rick Bayless, from Season 8 Mexico – One Plae at a Time
Makes about 1 cup
8 ounces (3 to 4 medium) tomatillos, husked and rinsed
Fresh hot green chiles to taste (1 or 2 serranos or 1 jalapenos), stemmed
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
6 sprigs of fresh cilantro (thick bottom stems cut off), roughly chopped
1/4 small white onion, finely chopped
Roast the tomatillos and chiles on a rimmed baking sheet 4 inches below a very hot broiler, until blotchy black and softening, about 5 minutes.
Flip them over and roast the other side. Cool, then transfer tomatillos and peppers to a food processor, including all the delicious juice the tomatillos have exuded during roasting. Note: for hotter salsa, include the seeds and the membrane from the jalapeños. For a milder salsa, remove those before pureeing.
Pour into bowl and add the garlic, cilantro and onion. Season to taste with salt.