How do you solve a bunch of tomatillos?

…How do you eat them ‘fore they all go bad?

So we had a bumper crop this year. As in, one can no longer turn around in our kitchen without bumping into crop. The tomatoes, after a slow start, did remarkably well. And I learned that “determinate” Romas are just that: They go from all-green to all-red-and-you-best-pick-us-now-or-we’ll-rot-on-the-vine in approximately 17 seconds. My second bunch of slow-roasted Romas is perfuming the kitchen right now. (I was so excited about this project that I actually cleaned the oven for the first time in… well, ever.)

Last year, the tomatillos were the top performers in our garden. They did well. So well, in fact, that this year I planted three of them rather than two, which is sort of a counter-intuitive response to discovering that a given plant produces OH HOLY HELL THAT’S A LOT.

And so for the last several weeks, we’ve been harvesting half a pound or so of tomatillos at a time. Very nice. But perhaps a bit intimidating if you don’t already have lots of plans for this shiny green bounty. So periodically over the next few days/weeks, I’ll post some of the ways we come up with to take advantage of these tasty, oh-so-prolific little powerhouses.

First up: a Rick Bayless-style salsa verde, which has the dual advantages of being ridiculously delicious and pretty darn easy to make. It’s perfect for zazzing up a meal of tacos, burritos, plain ol’ beans, grilled chicken/pork/whathaveyou.

Tomatillo Salsa
Makes about 2 cups; easy to double or triple or quadruple

About 1 pound tomatillos, husked and rinsed
1 to 3 chiles of your choice, either jalapenos or serranos, halved, seeded to cut the heat if you like
1/2 to 1 white onion, roughly chopped
Fresh cilantro to taste; start with about 5 or 6 sprigs, increase if you like, roughly chopped, stems and all
Zest and juice of 1/2 lime (optional)
Salt

Put the tomatillos and chiles in a saucepan with enough well-salted water to barely cover them. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer until tomatillos are just tender. This will only take about 5 minutes if they’re itty-bitty like mine tend to be; up to 10 minutes if you’ve got bigger/tougher specimens. Drain.

Put onion, cilantro, lime zest/juice, and a couple of pinches of salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse briefly to chop. Add drained tomatillos and chiles and pulse to puree until smooth-ish but still in possession of a bit of texture.

Taste and season with salt (no pepper) medium-generously.

Once you have this basic salsa down, the world is your oyster, tomatillo-ishly speaking. It’s fantastic combined with a mashed ripe avocado for a dip that is not technically guacamole. It can turn canned refried beans and Santitas tortilla chips into ZOMG nachos. You may also can it following standard hot water bath-instructions so that you may enjoy a bit of zesty summer freshness all long miserable rainy season long. (Unless you live in the Great Northwest, in which case there is no amount of zesty summer anything that is going to get you through the 14-month rainy season.)

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About Molly Newman

Writer, cook and trivia/spelling bee hostess, living it up in North Portland.
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