In Season: Tomatillos

By Matthew Kadey, RD

If not for the parchment-like husk encasing a tomatillo, you might mistake this fruit for a diminutive green tomato. But punchy tomatillos are what give Latin green sauces, most notably salsa verde, that signature tartness. The crux of the fruit’s nutritional prowess comes from the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin—carotenoids that boost eye health—but tomatillos also provide ample amounts of vitamins C and K. Shop Latin and farmers’ markets for fresh, firm tomatillos with dry husks, and refrigerate them in a paper bag for up to one month. To eat, first remove the husks, which break open once the fruit is ripe, wash off the sticky film, then either slice and enjoy raw or cook to soften their thick skins and heighten the flavor.

GRILLED TOMATILLO GUACAMOLE
Grill 1/2 pound whole tomatillos over medium-high heat, turning frequently, until skins are browned, about 5 to 7 minutes. Let cool, and dice. Pulse tomatillos; 1/2 cup chopped red onion; 1/4 cup chopped cilantro; 1 minced, seeded jalapeño; and salt to taste in a blender or food processor until smooth. Then add 1/3 cup low-fat sour cream; 2 chopped ripe avocados; and juice from 1 lime. Process until smooth.

QUINOA TOMATILLO PILAF
In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups vegetable broth; bring to a boil and simmer until all the liquid has absorbed, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet and sauté 2 diced shallots until softened, about 3 minutes. Mix in 2 minced garlic cloves, 5 or 6 diced tomatillos, and salt and pepper to taste; cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove skillet from heat, and stir in juice from 1/2 lemon and 1/3 cup chopped cilantro. Combine quinoa and tomatillo mixture and serve.

WATERMELON TOMATILLO GAZPACHO
In a blender or food processor, puree 1 1/2 cups chopped tomatillos; 1 1/2 cups seeded, diced watermelon; and 1 minced, seeded serrano chili. Add an additional 1 1/2 cup tomatillo and 1 1/2 cup watermelon, plus 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar, 1/3cup chopped fresh basil, and 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil; pulse to mix. Pour contents into a bowl, and fold in 2 sliced green onions and 1 diced, peeled cucumber. Season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with feta cheese, if desired.