Tomatillo Green


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Tomatillos are available year round. The tomatillo means little tomato and is just one of nearly one hundred Physalis species. This group has fruits that are commonly enclosed in papery calyxes and are called “Chinese lantern plants” because of this unusual formation. Varying from one inch in diameter to plum-size and resembling the green cherry tomato, the tomatillo, pronounced tohm-ah-TEE-oh, is much more lustrous and much firmer. Tomatillos are enclosed in a wrapper-like husk or calyx, creating an appearance of an oriental lampshade. Easily peeled away, the fruit is inside this web-like and dry parchment-colored covering. Having a unique gelatinous texture, the flesh offers a sweet and spicy flavor with a citric edge. This fruit is most often cooked to develop its excellent flavor. The raw fruit has a sharp acidic taste. Low in calories, one cup contains about 95 calories. Tomatillos provide a fair amount of vitamin A and vitamin K. Tomatillos are excellent in cooked salsas and sauces. Chop raw for salads, guacamole, gazpacho or use as a garnish for cold soups. Raw slivers enhance sandwiches. Pureed or chopped, tomatillos make for a delicious tart dressing. Onions, cilantro, chili peppers and garlic enhance flavor. To store, place in a paper-lined basket or dish and refrigerate. This fruit keeps exceptionally well. Freeze cooked tomatillos for longer storage. For a convenient sauce-making ingredient, use both liquid and fruit, do not drain. The tomatillo is also called a Spanish tomato not because it is known in Spain but because it is native to and grows in Mexico. Another name is green tomato as it remains green even when ripe. It is also sometimes referred to as husk tomato or Mexican husk tomato. Traditionally, tomatillos are especially a favored ingredient in New Mexican and Mexican dishes. Easy to grow, tomatillos were a staple food in ancient Mayan and Aztec communities. First introduced into India in the 1950s, it remains very popular there where it is commonly made into chutney.


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