The Last Signs of Summer: Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
What do you do when a neighbor gives you tomatillos? You make salsa!
It's an oddity in the garden. Is it a fruit? Is it a tomato? The answer is yes! This native to Central America and Mexico has a few names such as the Mexican husk tomato and the Mexican ground cherry.
So, what do they taste like? Kind of like a green tomato with a tart, bright, and almost citrusy flavor. They are mainly eaten cooked, but can also be prepared raw. When boiled, tomatillos tend to keep their tart flavor. When roasted, tomatillos become a little sweeter and lose some of the tartness.
My first encounter with this sticky little green fruit with a husky husk, was almost 30 years ago when a family friend, who was also a local Walla Walla Sweet Onion grower, gave me a produce bag of these little green spheres. He was growing tomatillos as an experiment with the hopes he could help meet the needs of our local Mexican restaurants. I had no clue how to use tomatillos, but I soon learned. In just about any Mexican-style recipe where a tomato is used, you can implement the tomatillo: salsa, soup, sauces, salad dressing, drizzle over fish or chicken, and use in your favorite recipes like Mexican street corn salad, chicken enchiladas, and white chicken chile. I also learned that roasted tomatillo salsa freezes well.
1.5 lbs fresh tomatillos
2-3 fresh jalapeños
2-3 garlic cloves, papery skins removed
1 halve of a large onion, cut into wedges
1-2 tsp kosher salt, to taste
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves
Preheat oven to 450. Prepare vegetables. Remove husks from tomatillos and wash well to remove any stickiness. Cut jalapeños in half and remove seeds and stems (if you prefer heat, leave a few seeds behind). In a baking pan spread out tomatillos, jalapeños, onion wedges, and garlic cloves. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until vegetables are soft and roasted. A few charred spots are okay. Let vegetables cool.
Add cooled roasted vegetables to a Cuisinart (food processor/chopper) adding cilantro and the juice from the lime. Pulse the vegetables for your desired texture. Smooth or chunky? Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with your choice of tortilla chips. Recently I've been hooked on organic blue tortilla chips.
Wine Recommendations: Of course, you can't go wrong with a fresh lime margarita, but choose the wine depending on the main part of the dish, whether it's chicken, pork, or even salmon. I'm thinking of a Sauvignon Blanc to a Pinot Noir; or even a fruity Sangria.