We just got back from our Friday afternoon farmer’s market, loaded with goodies to roast over the weekend. Tonight we’re having fresh mozzarella with heirloom tomatoes and basil from the garden, plus some local bread, sliced lemon cucumbers, and juicy peaches and plums.
One of the things we’re seeing more of as the summer winds down are tomatillos. Last year we grew them, and our two plants were extremely prolific. We may plant them again next year, as the taste of homegrown tomatillos are divine.
Tomatillos are in the same family as tomatoes, but grow much like ground cherries, goose berries, and huckleberries. Above is a photo of our tomatillo bush – it’s the center bush, about 3-4′ tall (click on the photo to make it larger – to the left are ground cherries). Tomatillos grow with a beautiful paper-like lantern-shaped covering around them (below).
When they’re ripe, they burst through that paper (below). We grew both purple and green ones, and didn’t find a whole lot of difference between them – except that the purple ones are very pretty and a tiny bit sweeter.
For salsa, many people say you should pick tomatillos before they’re quite ripe, so a little green yet. We liked having some ripe and some less than ripe mixed together – a little sweet, a little tart. It gave the salsa more dimension.
So if you’re at the market this weekend, and you see these little babies for a decent price, try them out. This salsa recipe is divine. It’s my own creation – I looked at a few recipes and then created from what we had, so feel free to do the same!
For those of you anxiously waiting for Part 2 of How to Grow A Four-Season Garden, I am writing it this weekend. I hear there are frost warnings in the Eastern US already, so cover your tomatoes and peppers with a sheet, blanket, or frost blanket overnight. And then enjoy this summer treat!
Melinda’s Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
- 4 lbs. tomatillos, husked and washed (to remove the sticky film they have)
- 6 green cayenne peppers (or jalepeno, serrano), seeded
- 6 cloves of garlic
- 1.5 medium-sized yellow onions, diced
- 8 scallions, chopped in 1/4”-1/2” pieces
- 4t salt
1. Preheat oven to broil, with the rack on the top shelf (a broiler would also work well, as would a solar cooker).
2. Remove the husks from the tomatillos and wash them well. They have a natural soap-like coating you should remove.
3. Lay the tomatillos side by side in a single layer on an ungreased cookie sheet. Broil until soft and darkened on the top (4-6 minutes), watching constantly.
4. Turn them over on the other side with a spatula, and broil until darkened on the top (another 5 minutes or so).
5. Remove the pan from the oven and let the tomatillos cool completely.
6. Dry roast the cayenne and garlic in a skillet or frying pan, constantly shaking the pan and turning them over, until both are soft and the outer layer is browned.
7. Remove the cayenne and garlic from the pan, finely chop them and set aside.
8. Dry roast the diced onions until slightly translucent and beginning to brown.
9. Dry roast the scallions until slightly browned (1-3 minutes).
10. Once cooled, place tomatillos and any juice into a blender, or blend by hand, just until blended but still chunky.
11. Pour all ingredients into a bowl, add salt, mix, and let sit for a few minutes, letting the flavors mingle and develop. Refrigerate unused portions – the taste will be even better the next day.
Makes 6 cups of salsa – enough for dinner, lunch the next day, and a lot more to freeze or preserve. It’s also easily adaptable to a smaller amount! Serve as you would tomato salsa: with tacos, as a dip, over roasted eggplant, for example.