Inside the papery, parchment- like husk covering, the bright green- yellow tinted balls lend the appearance of little green tomatoes. In Spanish they are even called ‘little tomatoes’. Indeed tomatillos are a fruit, just like the tomato, but they are not tomatoes.
Tart and citrus-y, tomatillos are used in a broad array of Mexican dishes including as the main ingredient in the green sauce that perhaps you may choose cooked in or drizzled on to your stuffed burrito or enchiladas at the local Mexican restaurant.
Tomatillos may be eaten raw or cooked. They do lose their color brilliance once cooked though.
Cooking tomatillos also mellows or balances out the tartness a bit but with bins of these beautiful fresh fruits at Cardenas Mexican market I decided to share the raw Tomatillo Salsa version and simply add a bit of sugar in balancing the flavors out.
Tomatillos are filled with juice and produce flavorful liquid even when lightly pulsed in the food processor. I like to prepare and chill the salsa one day before using which seems to blend the flavors and textures together quite nicely.
Purchase medium sized tomatillos whose husks look somewhat fresh with the inner fruit shiny and bright.
To prepare the tomatillos remove the outer husk then gently rub the green fruit while rinsing with warm water to remove the outer stickiness and lightly dry them with paper toweling or a clean kitchen towel.
This is what a tomatillo looks like cut in half. When you are ready to begin making your Tomatillo Salsa simply quarter the rinsed and dried fruit and proceed.
- 2 dozen (24) medium sized fresh tomatillos, paper husks removed, rinsed in warm water, gently rubbing the tomatillos while rinsing to remove any outer stickiness. Dry tomatillos then cut into quarters
- 1 small to medium red onion, chopped very finely
- 2-3 jalapenos, seeds and pith removed, chopped very finely (a long hot red pepper may also be used)
- juice of 1 orange
- juice of 1 lime
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
- 1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt, plus more according to taste
- pinch or two of sugar to balance the tart flavor
- In the bowl of a food processor, lightly pulse the tomatillos until just chopped
- Add in the onions and jalapenos and pulse just twice
- Fresh tomatillos are juicy and so will be somewhat liquefied which also provides lots of flavor
- Transfer tomatillo mixture to a bowl, stir in the orange juice, lime juice, and vinegar, stir in the chopped cilantro, sprinkle in the salt, check seasoning, adjust to taste, sprinkle in a pinch of sugar, stir, add just a little more if needed to adjust tart balance
- Cover and chill overnight for flavors to blend
- Check seasoning before serving adding more salt if needed
Tomatillo Salsa is best chilled overnight, blending and mellowing the flavors