By Chef Rich Baringer,
We had a picnic at our place recently and as I was deciding on what to make, I remembered that I had a bunch of tomatillos in the fridge from Blooming Glen Farm. (They last a long time in the refrigerator.)
For those who aren’t familiar with them, tomatillos look like green tomatoes that are covered in a paper-like husk. They’re closely related to the gooseberry, which is smaller, but also has the same type of husk. These interesting fruits are used extensively in Mexican cooking and can be eaten either raw or cooked.
They have a flavor that’s kind of hard to describe. Raw, they are crunchy, tangy and a little sweet. (My son, Jake, was right when he said that they taste a little like starfruit.) When they’re cooked, they get a little sweeter and a little less tangy, but still distinctive. Cooking brings out the pectin in them, so they help to thicken a recipe and give it a silky consistency.
So here are the two tomatillo recipes that I chose for my picnic. One is very typical—a salsa verde using tomatillos charred under the broiler. The other is a salad that uses them raw for the crunch and unique flavor. They’re both simple, quick and tasty, so give them a try!
Smoky Salsa Verde
(from Cook’s Country)
Makes 1 ¼ cups
This is great just as a dip with tortilla chips, but is also a delicious condiment for fish, grilled meat, eggs, etc.
1 lb tomatillos, husked
1 small onion, quartered
1 jalapeno, stemmed, halved and seeded
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 tsp olive oil
½ cup cilantro leaves
1 Tbsp lime juice
- Adjust oven rack 5″ from broiler element and heat broiler. Toss tomatillos, onion, jalapeno and garlic with oil and place on foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Broil, turning occasionally, until veggies are lightly charred, 10-12 minutes. Cool slightly, about 5 minutes.
- Add veggies, cilantro, lime juice and ¼ tsp salt to food processor and pulse until coarsely ground, 5-7 pulses (or to desired consistency). Season with salt to taste. Serve or keep in fridge up to 3 days.
Shrimp, Corn and Tomatillo Salad
(adapted from Serious Eats)
1 lb raw medium shrimp, peeled, de-veined and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp kosher salt, divided, plus more for seasoning
¼ tsp baking soda
3 cups corn kernels, cut from about 3 ears
2 Tbsp lime juice, divided
½ lb tomatillos, husked, quartered and cut into ¼” slices
1 Serrano or jalapeno chile, seeded and thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
3 scallions, thinly sliced on a bias
¼ cup cilantro, roughly chopped
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
- Combine shrimp, 1 tsp salt and baking soda in a bowl and toss to coat. Set aside in refrigerator until ready to use.
- Bring a medium pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add corn and cook until tender-crisp, about 3 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water and spin dry in a salad spinner.
- Add shrimp to now-empty pot and cover with 3 cups of water. Add remaining 1 Tbsp salt along with 1 Tbsp lime juice. Place over medium-high heat and heat until water is barely steaming (about 170°F, if using an instant-read thermometer). Adjust heat to maintain this temperature. Cook until shrimp are pink and firm, about 7 min. Drain, rinse under cold water and spin dry in a salad spinner.
- Combine all ingredients. Toss and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Where can you find locally grown tomatillos? Here’s a list of Local Farmers Markets in Bucks County and nearby.
Rich Baringer is chef/owner of Dinner’s Done Personal Chef Service. Rich grew up in Haycock Township and has lived (and eaten) in Bucks County his whole life. He now lives in Blooming Glen Village with his wife, Mary Beth, his son Jake, and their new pup, Teddy. Rich graduated from the Culinary Business Academy in Atlanta, is a member of the U.S. Personal Chef Association and owns Dinner’s Done Personal Chef Service. For more information about Dinner’s Done PCS, contact Rich at 215.804.6438, firstname.lastname@example.org or check out his website.