TOMATILLOS: WHAT ARE THEY AND HOW TO COOK THEM
Vibrant green and similar in appearance to winter cherries - tomatillo literally means 'small tomato', although in reality, these aren't any ordinary tomatoes.
So what are tomatillos and how do you use them in the kitchen?
What are tomatillos?
These dinky fruits - yes, tomatillo are fruits - are also known as "Mexican green tomatoes," as they are native to Mexico and Central America where they are commonly cultivated.
Over time the tomatillo has also taken root in the US, where the crop is prized for its resilience (and resistance) to weather conditions.
The tomatillo plant belongs to the Solanaceae or nightshade family, which includes other favourites like potatoes, aubergine and tomatoes.
What do tomatillos taste like?
The small spherical fruit comes wrapped inside a crinkly papery skin revealing a relatively dry centre.
They taste just like a cross between a gooseberry and a more acidic only less sweet ripe tomato. The pulp is a little watery and dense with distinctive bright colour that darkens slightly during cooking.
Tomatillos are also reportedly good for health: protecting sight, heart and skin and are low in calories and rich in fibre.
How to cook tomatillos?
Tomatillo can be used like tomatoes, and are most commonly used for salsas (preferably spicy) which turn off the acidity, perfect with tacos.
But this Mexican tomato can also be cooked whole - fried or roasted - or finely chopped for a sauté.
The tomatillo is a versatile ingredient that will add colour to any variety of recipes.
Roasted tomatillo salsa is exceptional, while raw tomatillo salsa is less refined but equally good. Try this salsa verde recipe from cookieandkate.
Tomatillos are also perfect in curries or added to vinaigrette to infuse that extra bit of acidity.
To accompany your grills, together with peppers and onions, or to be served in chilli, the tomatillo shows a perfect yield and an excellent result.
Also, try using them as a topping for a toast - perhaps adding a more creamy part such as ricotta or feta - together with a drizzle of olive oil.
Enjoy them fresh in salads paired with avocado for the creamy avocado to tame the sharp citrus notes.
Or, if you're thirsty - why not try them in a cocktail - tomatillo margarita.