Nutrition in tomatillos — you bet. In Spanish, tomatillos are referred to as the tomate verdes, or “green tomatoes,” but if you’re expecting the flavor of a tomato, guess again. Rather, tomatillos bring a nutritious tangy citrus-like punch of flavor to the table.
What makes tomatillos unique in appearance is their paper like cellulose husk covering that resembles the shape of a small green lantern that hangs downward from the bushy, annual plant on which it grows.
With their dense, highly seeded interior, tomatillos burst with nutrition, and have a distinctive tart, lemony flavor that makes them the perfect ingredient in Mexican dishes such as Salsa Cruda, a fresh salsa dish, as well as Salsa Verde, a cooked green sauce used in many Mexican dishes. Tomatillos also contain a pectin-like substance that thickens the sauce or salsa upon refrigeration.
What is the Nutritional value of Tomatillos?
The highly nutritional aspects of tomatillos may surprise you. One medium raw tomatillo contains only 11 calories, yet it packs 91 mg. of potassium. That same little fruit contains 4 mg. of vitamin C, 2.4 mg of calcium, 2.38 mg. of folic acid, and 39 IU of vitamin A to help protect your corneas, and benefits night vision. Imagine the benefits when you include several in your recipe.
Serve tomatillos with iron-rich foods, such as fish, poultry or beef, to boost the iron content of your meal even more
How to Select and Store Tomatillos
Other than taking off the husk, tomatillos actually require no peeling or seeding. The condition of the husk is a great way to determine the quality of the fruit that lives underneath; it should be green or light brown and fresh-looking.Any husk that is shriveled or generally unappealing will have an equally unappealing fruit.
Aim to pick tomatillos on the smaller side; the smaller the tomatillo, the sweeter it will be! The fruit, if you can feel it, should be firm to the touch. If the tomatillos are soggy or discolored, avoid purchase. If your grocery store permits it, peel the husk back to check the color of the tomatillo as well.
Usually, tomatillos are brought to market with husks on, although consumers storing them should remove the husk for longer refrigerated life. With their husks removed and proper refrigeration, tomatillos can last up to two weeks. They may also be frozen whole or sliced.
Remove the husks before using, the husks are inedible. Tomatillos are very easy to cook with because they don’t need to be peeled or seeded. Their texture is firm when raw, but softens when cooked. When growing your own fresh tomatillos, they are ready to harvest when the husks burst.
Rinse before using as the tomatillo is covered by a sticky substance. Do not peel the green skin
Raw – Raw or uncooked tomatillos are often in Mexican sauces. They add a fresh citrus-like flavor.
Blanching – Blanching mellows the flavor. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the whole tomatillos (husks removed and rinsed) and boil for approximately 5 minutes or until soft. Drain and crush or puree as directed in your recipe.
Fire Roasting – Roast under the broiler, with a propane torch, or over an open flame such as a grill. Make sure the heat is quite hot before roasting. If the heat is not hot enough, the tomatillos will turn mushy before being charred. The charred or slightly blackened skins will enrich your sauces with a smoky flavor.
Dry Roasting – This will produce an earthy, nutty flavor. Place the tomatillos in a heavy fry pan (preferably a cast iron pan). Turn heat to low and roast for approximately 20 to 30 minutes, turning occasionally.
Tomatillo Salsa Recipe
Try this week’s Tomatillo Salsa Recipe for a nutritious roasted tomatillo salsa. Use as a dip, or a sauce for enchiladas or your other favorite Mexican fare.