Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Tomatillo newbie ...

This is the year. We've planted our first tomatillo plants from seed. My husband is nurturing a dozen or more seedlings in his garden, and my little ones are just popping up from the soil.

Image via Hill Country Ecoscaping.

The Aztecs first grew tomatillos as far back as 800 B.C., and it's a staple in gardens throughout Texas and Mexico to this day. Tomatillos are also called 'tomate verde' in Mexico (which means green tomato) and are the basis in much of Mexican cooking.

Image via Cooking Little.

In our hot summers, this little green veggie thrives. Encased in its own protective husk, tomatillos are just waiting to ripen for use in a variety of recipes. 

Image via Simply Recipes.

If you've ever dined in a restaurant serving our local Tex-Mex fare, you've no doubt dipped a tostada (fried corn tortilla chip) in a bowl of 'green' tomatillo salsa. The ingredients for this favorite includes roasted tomatillos, chile peppers, lime juice, cilantro, and onion. Yum!

Image via My Gourmet Connection.

But, with a little tweaking, the salsa recipe becomes a flavorful accompaniment for seafood and poultry.  My favorites include Crab Cakes drizzled with the tasty green sauce and heavenly Shrimp Tacos with Tomatillo Salsa.

I've been collecting recipes, and I think this is the winner. As soon as my little tomatillos are ready, I'm making this my first tomatillo dinner!



1/2 pound tomatillos
2/3 cup chopped green onions (about 4 green onions)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons lime juice (about 1 lime)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 jalapeƱo pepper, seeds removed and chopped
1 garlic clove
1 medium serrano pepper (optional, if you like it hot)

1 pound medium peeled and deveined shrimp
1/2 teaspoon ancho chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
2 cups shredded cabbage
1 cup shredded carrot


To prepare salsa, remove husks and stems from tomatillos. Place tomatillos on a grill rack coated with cooking spray.* Grill 10 minutes or until slightly blackened on each side, turning occasionally. Cool completely; coarsely chop. Place tomatillos and all salsa ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse 7 times or until coarsely chopped.

To prepare tacos, thread shrimp evenly on 6 (10-inch) skewers. Place skewers on a preheated grill rack coated with cooking spray. Grill 2 minutes or until shrimp are done, turning once. Remove shrimp from skewers, and place in a medium bowl. Add chili powder, cumin, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; toss to coat.

Heat the tortillas on the grill 1 minute on each side. Top each tortilla with 1/4 cup cabbage and 2 tablespoons carrot. Divide shrimp mixture evenly among the tortillas; top each with 2 tablespoons salsa.

* Note: The tomatillos can also be charred over a gas cooktop burner instead of a grill. Use a pair of tongs to hold the tomatillo over the flame, turning the fruit occasionally to blacken its skin evenly. A grill basket may be used to cook the shrimp instead skewering. Yield: 8 tacos.


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