Tomatillos are the unique and tangy addition you need in your cooking. If you aren’t familiar with them, tomatillos are small green fruits that come from Central and South America. Often used in Mexican cuisine, theyâ€™re versatile and can be used in various dishes, including soups, sauces, and salsas. In this comprehensive guide, weâ€™ll explore everything you need to know about cooking with tomatillos, from how to select the best ones at the grocery store to some amazing recipes to try out. So let’s get started and add some zesty flavor to your meals!
What are Tomatillos?
If you are looking to add a new ingredient to your Mexican culinary repertoire, one option you may want to consider is the tomatillo. These small, round, and firm green tomatoes with a papery husk are a staple of Mexican cuisine. Tomatillos are also known as husk tomatoes, Mexican green tomatoes, or Mexican husk tomatoes. They are native to Mexico and Central America and are an essential ingredient in traditional Mexican dishes such as salsa verde, chilaquiles, and guacamole.
Tomatillos are not the same as regular green tomatoes, although they may resemble them. They are about the same size as a cherry tomato or slightly smaller. However, tomatillos are covered with a papery husk that must be peeled off before eating or cooking. The fruit inside is usually green but can be yellow or purple. The flavor is tart and acidic, unlike the sweetness of regular tomatoes.
History and Origin
Tomatillos have been used for centuries in Mexico as a primary ingredient in many dishes. They were cultivated by the Aztecs and were an important part of their diet. Nowadays, tomatillos are widely grown throughout Mexico and are also cultivated in other countries, such as the United States, Colombia, and Guatemala.
Tomatillos are low in calories and fat and rich in nutrients. They are an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, and fiber. They also contain iron, magnesium, and phosphorus. The high vitamin C content in tomatillos helps in boosting the immune system while the potassium in them helps in regulating blood pressure.
Health Benefits of Tomatillos
Tomatillos are a unique and versatile fruit that offer a variety of health benefits. Here are some reasons why you should add this nutritious ingredient to your diet:
Rich in Nutrients
Tomatillos are a good source of many essential nutrients, including:
- Vitamins C: Tomatillos are an excellent source of vitamin C, which plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy immune system.
- Vitamin A: This nutrient is essential for maintaining healthy vision and skin.
- Vitamin K: Tomatillos are a good source of vitamin K, which is necessary for blood clotting and helps to maintain healthy bones.
- Fiber: With about 2.4 grams of fiber per serving, tomatillos help to promote healthy digestion.
- Iron: Tomatillos contain iron, which is essential for healthy red blood cells and oxygen transport in the body.
- Potassium: This nutrient helps to regulate blood pressure and maintain a healthy heart.
- Magnesium: Tomatillos also contain magnesium, which is essential for healthy bones and muscles.
Antioxidants and Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Tomatillos contain a variety of antioxidants, including flavonoids and carotenoids. These compounds help to protect the body from cell damage and reduce inflammation. Research suggests that these antioxidants may offer protection against a variety of chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
Weight Management Benefits
Tomatillos are a low-calorie food and a good source of fiber, making them a great addition to any weight loss or weight management plan. The fiber in tomatillos can help to promote feelings of fullness, which can help to reduce overall calorie intake. Additionally, the low calorie content of tomatillos can help to support a calorie-controlled diet.
Tip: Try adding tomatillos to your favorite salsa recipe for a flavorful, low-calorie snack!
How to Pick and Store Tomatillos
If you’re planning to cook with tomatillos, a key step is to choose the right ones, and then store them properly to keep them fresh. Here are some tips:
When selecting tomatillos, aim for ones that are firm and bright green. If they have any soft spots or discoloration, they may be past their prime, and won’t taste as good. The husk around the tomatillo should be dry and tightly-fitted, which is a good indication that the fruit is fresh. Finally, it’s worth giving the tomatillo a gentle squeeze to see if it feels firm and solid – if it’s mushy or has a lot of give, it may be overripe.
Once you’ve got your tomatillos home, store them in the fridge to help keep them fresh. You can either wrap each one in a paper towel and put them in a plastic bag, or simply place them in a paper bag and put that in the fridge. The tomatillos should last for up to two weeks this way. Don’t wash them until you’re ready to use them, since moisture can cause them to spoil more quickly. And of course, if you notice any signs that a tomatillo is starting to go bad (such as a sour or off smell), discard it and use the others in your batch as soon as possible.
How to Prepare Tomatillos for Cooking
Tomatillos are typically used in traditional Mexican cuisine and have a tart, citrusy flavor that can add a unique twist to any dish. Before incorporating them into your favorite recipes, it is essential to properly prepare them. Here’s how to do it:
Removing the Husk
Start by removing the husk by gently pulling it off the tomatillo. Once you remove the husk, rinse the tomatillos under cold water and wash them thoroughly to remove any dirt or debris. If you’re using the tomatillos for salsa or sauce, you’ll want to dice them into small pieces.
If you want to add a smoky flavor to your tomatillos, try roasting them. Preheat your oven to 375Â°F (190Â°C), line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and place the tomatillos on top. Roast the tomatillos for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until they’re soft and slightly golden brown. Once done, let them cool before using them in your recipe.
Boiling tomatillos is another cooking option. Start by placing the tomatillos in a pot of boiling water and allow them to cook for approximately 5 to 10 minutes, or until they’re soft. Once done, remove them from the pot and place them in a bowl of ice water to cool them down. This allows the tomatillos to maintain their vibrant green color.
Grilling tomatillos is perfect for adding a smoky flavor to your salsa or sauce. Start by washing the tomatillos and cutting them in half. Preheat your grill to medium-high and place the tomatillos on the grates. Cook them for about 5 to 6 minutes per side until they’re slightly charred. Once done, remove them from the grill and let them cool before using them in your recipe.
Recipes using Tomatillos
Tomatillos are a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes. Here are some delicious recipes that you can try out:
This classic Mexican salsa is perfect for dipping tortilla chips or topping on your favorite dishes.
- 5 tomatillos, husked and washed
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 jalapeÃ±o pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- Salt, to taste
Puree all the ingredients in a blender until smooth. Add salt to taste. Serve immediately or store in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
Tomatillo and Avocado Gazpacho
This refreshing soup is perfect for a hot summer day.
- 3 tomatillos, husked and chopped
- 1 avocado, peeled and chopped
- 1/2 red onion, chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Puree all the ingredients in a blender until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving.
Chicken and Tomatillo Stew
This hearty stew is perfect for a cold winter day.
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 pound tomatillos, husked and chopped
- 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Place the chicken, onion, garlic, chicken broth, tomatillos, black beans, chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper in a slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours. Shred the chicken before serving.
These delicious enchiladas are sure to be a hit with your family and friends.
- 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
- 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- 1/2 cup chopped red onion
- 1 cup tomatillo salsa
- 8 flour tortillas
- 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Preheat the oven to 350Â°F. Mix the chicken, black beans, cilantro, red onion, and tomatillo salsa in a bowl. Spoon the mixture onto each tortilla and roll up. Place the enchiladas in a greased baking dish. Top with shredded cheese. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
Why Cook with Tomatillos?
Tomatillos are a versatile and unique ingredient that can add a new dimension of flavor and nutrition to your cooking.
Tomatillos contain a variety of nutrients that are essential for good health. They’re a great source of vitamin C, fiber, and potassium. Plus, they’re low in calories, making them a healthy addition to your meals.
They Add Flavor
Tomatillos have a tangy, slightly sweet flavor that can enhance a variety of dishes. They pair well with other ingredients like cilantro, garlic, and onion, and their bright green color can add visual appeal to your dishes.
Tomatillos are a key ingredient in many Mexican dishes, but they can also be used in a variety of other cuisines. They can be used raw, roasted, or boiled, and can be eaten on their own or added to sauces, stews, and more.
Thanks for cooking with tomatillos!
We hope this comprehensive guide has helped you master the art of cooking with tomatillos. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a beginner cook, tomatillos can add a unique flavor to your dishes. Remember to always wash and husk your tomatillos before use, and experiment with various recipes to find your favorite way of cooking with them. Thank you for reading, and we hope to see you again soon!
Cooking with Tomatillos: Your Comprehensive Guide
- 1 pound tomatillos
- 1 onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 jalapeño
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Remove the husks from the tomatillos and rinse them under cold water. Cut them into quarters.
- Peel and chop the onion and garlic cloves. Remove the stem and seeds from the jalapeño and chop it.
- Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and jalapeño and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatillos and cook until they are soft and slightly browned, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper.
- Serve the tomatillo mixture as a side dish or use it as a topping for tacos, burritos, or enchiladas.