Do you know the difference between a tomato and a tomatillo?
People often mistake tomatillos for ‘green’ tomatoes but in fact, they deserve a category all of their own.
Otherwise known as the Mexican husk tomato, this green, or green-purple fruit, originated in Mexico and was cultivated by the pre-Columbian people of Mesoamericans. It was a staple crop of the Aztecs in Central American around 800 BCE.
Tomatillos, are slightly more acidic than than a traditional tomato and have a slightly different pulp. The taste is often described as tangy or tart and they will likely arrive to you encased in a dark yellow/light brown husk that will be removed.
When you go to rinse them, you may notice a sticky film on the skin…Don’t be alarmed!!That film is a natural deterrent against pests. Seriously! If an insect penetrates the husk, they encounter this film (called withanolides) and don’t like the taste and leave!!! This is TOTALLY the tomato I should grow!
(BTW, I happen to think removing the husks is a stinky process but I seem to be the only one…anyone else out there feel me?)
Why are tomatoes considered a fruit?
Like the tomato, the tomatillo is also considered a fruit. According to a quick Google Search, ‘botanically speaking, a fruit is a ripened flower ovary that also contains seeds.” So, fruits form from a flower and contain seeds? That’s what categorizes them as a fruit and not a veggie?
Either way, they are delicious!!!
How do you eat tomatillos?
My first experience with the tomatillo was in salsa verde at a little restaurant named Chapala. This was during my Weight Watcher’s days and Friday night meant a Margarita and my own bowl of Salsa Verde. I would, literally, save my points alllll week long so I could sit with a basket of chips and a perfectly salted bowl of that salsa. I remember skipping many dinners because I only had enough points for the meal or the chips.
Btw, chips and salsa ALWAYS win.
Chapala had been closed for years when the first round of tomatillos appeared in our farm boxes but I had no idea what to do with them, aside from bringing them to the chef at Chapala and asking her to make it.
Since that wasn’t an option, I had to go at on my own…
Over the years I learned a variety of different ways to use the citrus-y flavor to enhance my food.
(Did you know salsa verde with smoked pork is DELICIOUS??? The two flavors together make magic. Seriously.)
This past weekend, Jack was smoking a pork butt and I made some deviled eggs, potato salad and an olive salad. I was really wanting a way to pull all of those flavors together so, my Verde BBQ was born!
This sauce is so versatile, it can be used in a variety of ways:
- In place of a traditional BBQ sauce.
- As a substitute for red enchilada sauce. (Smoked Pork enchiladas-YUM!)
- As a basting and dipping sauce for BBQ shrimp, Shrimp en Brochette & Jalapeno Poppers.
- A marinade for chicken.
- On top of anything in need of some citrus-y deliciousness!
Tomatillo BBQ Sauce -AKA- Verde BBQ Sauce
This Green BBQ sauce is the perfect mix of sweet, citrus and tang. Amazing as a sauce or marinade…the possibilities are endless. I keep this version mild but, feel free to use ANY pepper you prefer. I've heard habanero and serrano are particularly delicious!
- 1 Onion Peeled & Diced
- 2 Garlic Cloves, Minced
- 1/2 tbsp Grapeseed or Avocado oil
- Salt to taste
- 1 # Tomatillos Shucked, Cleaned and Quartered
- 1 Jalapeno Diced
- 1 TBSP White Wine Vinegar
- 1/4 cup Ketchup
- 1 tsp Paprika
- 1 TBSP Honey Local
- 1 TBSP Butter Divided
- 1/2 Cup Cilantro (Optional) Roughly Chopped
In saucepan, warm oil then add garlic and onion until it starts to become fragrant. Add a pinch of salt and cook until the onion is softened, being careful to not burn the garlic.
Add tomatillos jalapeno and white wine vinegar, cooking until the tomato releases it's juices. (About 15 minutes.)
Stir in ketchup, paprika honey and 1/2 TBSP butter. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer 15 minutes.
Stir in the optional step of the roughly chopped cilantro.
Using an emulsion blender, (or, stand up blender) puree until smooth.
Can be served warm and then, kept in the refrigerator for up to a week.
***THIS JUST IN: I’ve learned that tomatillos are amazing in chutneys! That may be up next; but first, how about that BBQ???
So there you have it! A farm fresh twist on a saucy summer staple! What did you think??? Tag us in your creations!