Featured Vegetable: Tomatillo
So, what exactly is a tomatillo? Meaning “little tomato” in Spanish, tomatillos are small vegetables that resemble green tomatoes. One of the most distinguishing characteristics of a tomatillo is the papery husk that surrounds the fruit. That’s right, tomatillos, just like their distant relatives, tomatoes, are actually fruits! When it comes to the culinary world though, they are traditionally used as vegetables.
Native to Mexico, the tart lemony flavor of tomatillos adds a unique tang to moles, salsas, and stews that are popular in Mexican cuisine. They can be chopped raw for salads, guacamole, or gazpacho, but are typically cooked in order to soften the skin and enhance their flavor in dishes. Perhaps the most notable use of tomatillos is in salsa verde (green salsa), which is a zesty twist on the classic red variety. Not only do these vegetables bring flavor to dishes, but one ½-cup of fresh chopped tomatillos provides a good source of vitamin C for only 21 calories.
Unlike most vegetables, tomatillos actually lose flavor as they ripen. How can you tell if a tomatillo is past its prime? The green skin of the fruit will turn yellow or purple. Another indication of better flavor is smaller size, no bigger than a golf ball. Be sure to choose tomatillos that are dry and firm with a tightly fitting, supple husk. When you prepare them, remove the husks and wash off any sticky residue from the skin, which comes off easily under running water.
You can store tomatillos in the refrigerator for about 2-3 weeks, either loose or in the vegetable crisper. If you can’t find fresh tomatillos, look for the canned form, which have already been cooked and softened.
Not sure what you want to make with these uniquely tangy “veggies”? Start off with Roasted Tomatillo Salsa, and serve it over grilled chicken, fish, enchiladas, or even omelets. If you’re short on time, a tasty alternative to use is Pace® Salsa Verde, which is a convenient way to add a tangy kick to dishes. Check out some of these great recipes from Campbell’s Kitchen®: