Learn About Tomatillos

Author: Chef Toby

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What are Tomatillos?

Tomatillos are small green fruits that originate from Mexico. They can vary in size, and be anywhere from 1-inch to 4 inches in diameter. They grow wrapped in a papery green husk which is inedible and removed before cooking. The fruit itself can be bright green or purple in color and round. When cut open, tomatillos have pale green flesh and dozens of small seeds, which can be eaten. Tomatillos have a sticky residue on them that helps the husk stick to the fruit, so make sure to wash them thoroughly before eating or cooking. 

What do Tomatillos taste like?

Unlike their red tomato cousins, tomatillos are less watery, not as sweet, and have a more acidic flavor. Raw tomatillos can lend a bright, fresh flavor to dishes while roasting them will give them a deeper, more savory taste that is less acidic. 

How do you use Tomatillos?

Tomatillos can be used in a variety of ways and can be eaten both raw and cooked. A common use of tomatillos is in salsas. This can be made by blending raw, boiled, or roasted tomatillos with other ingredients like cilantro, onion, garlic, and chiles like jalapenos and serranos. The sauce can then be a base for other dishes, like Chile Verde, or green chile, which is meat stewed in tomatillo salsa. Add these little green tomatoes to soups, stews, or eat them sliced raw.

Tomatillos in the skin
Tomatillo with husk on a wooden table; tomatillo salsa in the background.

Where do you buy Tomatillos?

Tomatillos can be found at most large supermarkets or farmers markets. They are usually available year-round, but reach their peak season from early summer to fall. They can be purchased usually by the pound, or in pre-packaged bags, found in the produce section. 

How do you store Tomatillos?

Store tomatillos, wrapped in their husks, at room temperature to help them ripen, or store ripe tomatillos in the refrigerator to extend their shelf life. Tomatillos have gone bad when they have brown spots that are soft or mushy to the touch.

Fun fact about Tomatillos:

In Spanish, the word tomatillo means little tomato

Did you know?

Tomatillos are very good for you! Tomatillos are a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, niacin, potassium, manganese, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and copper.

Recipes Using Tomatillos 

Avocado Salsa

Make a creamy and delicious salsa by blending tomatillos with avocado, salt, cilantro, and onion for a tasty taco topping. Pro tip: add some water to the blender to help blend the salsa to a smooth consistency.

Boiled Tomatillo Salsa

Lessen the acidity and add depth in flavor by boiling tomatillos until soft. In a blender, combine the tomatillos with jalapenos, cilantro, onion, garlic, and a splash of water and blend until smooth. Used this versatile sauce in the three recipe ideas listed below! 

Mexican Chile Verde 

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown bite-sized pieces of the protein of your choice (such as chicken thighs or pork). Once the meat has browned, add in tomatillo salsa (like the one mentioned above) and bring it to a boil with the meat. Reduce the heat and braise until the meat is fully cooked and tender. Serve with white rice and pinto beans for a complete meal.

Chilaquiles with Eggs

To make this comforting Mexican breakfast, use store-bought tortilla chips, or fry your own. In a skillet, heat tomatillo salsa through until boiling, and add fried tortilla chips. Toss to coat the chips in the sauce and serve with avocado, queso fresco, and a fried egg

Enchiladas

Using the boiled tomatillo salsa, make classic enchiladas in the oven! Heat corn tortillas until soft and fill with shredded chicken and/or Monterey jack cheese. Roll them into tacos and layer them on a glass baking dish. Cover the enchiladas in salsa and more cheese, and bake in the oven until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling.


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