If you are a regular visitor to my blog, you might have noticed that I used these little guys in my cooking a lot. Tomatillos are a fruit native to Mexico and Guatemala and are close cousins to one of the most famous Mexican ingredients, tomatoes. In central Mexico tomatoes are known as jitomates (from the Nahuatl word xitomatl) and tomatillos are known as tomates verdes or simply tomates. In other parts of Mexico and Central America they are also known as tomate de cáscara (husk tomato), miltomate, tomate de fresadilla and tomate milpero.
Tomatillos are the fruit of the plant with the same name that belongs to the Solanaceae family. They have been consumed in America since pre-Columbian times. Some excavations in Tehuacan (in the Mexican state of Puebla) have discovered that its used dates as far as 900 BC. Native peoples of Mesoamerica mixed tomatillos and chillies (in what we know now generically as green salsas) to improve the flavor of meals and stimulate the appetite.
Even though the production of tomatillo has been marginalized and even discontinued in some parts of the world, they are still a staple food in Mexican kitchens. A great array of green sauces and salsas use tomatillos as a based, just take a look at some of the recipes I have published on this blog.
One of the most common uses of tomatillo is in the preparation of the basic salsa verde. When eating tacos, gorditas, tostadas, tamales, tortas or any other Mexican snack and fritanga on the street or a restaurant you usually have the option to choose between a green or red salsa to “spice things up”. The preparation of this salsa is very simple. Just roast 3 large tomatillos and 1 jalapeño pepper (more if you want more heat). Then blend them with 1/2 onion, 2 garlic cloves and a dash of salt. You don’t need to add any liquids since tomatillos become very juicy after roasting.
During the last decade tomatillos have gained popularity in the U.S. It is easy to find them now fresh or canned in many grocery stores and markets all around the country. So if you happen to come across these green guys, give them a try. You’ll be introduce to a whole new tomato experience.
I am sending this picture to Click, a monthly event dedicated to Food Photography. This month’s theme is Wood.