What Are Tomatillos?
Introduction to Tomatillos
Tomatillos, also known as husk tomatoes, are a small, round fruit that is native to Mexico and Central America. They are part of the nightshade family and are closely related to tomatoes, although they have a different taste and appearance. Tomatillos are usually green, but they can also be yellow, purple, or red when fully ripe. They are covered in a papery husk that needs to be removed before cooking.
Tomatillos have a slightly tart flavor that is often described as citrusy or tangy. They are a popular ingredient in Mexican cuisine and are used to make salsa verde, a green salsa that is commonly served with tacos, enchiladas, and other dishes. Tomatillos can also be used in soups, stews, and sauces.
In terms of nutrition, tomatillos are low in calories and fat, but high in fiber, vitamin C, and potassium. They also contain small amounts of other vitamins and minerals, as well as antioxidants that can help protect against disease. Overall, tomatillos are a flavorful and nutritious ingredient that can add a unique twist to a variety of dishes.
Tomatillos vs. Tomatoes: What’s the Difference?
While tomatillos and tomatoes are both part of the nightshade family and have some similarities, there are also several key differences between the two.
One of the main differences is their appearance. Tomatillos are covered in a papery husk that needs to be removed before cooking, while tomatoes have a smooth skin that can be eaten. Tomatillos are also usually smaller and rounder than tomatoes, and they have a slightly different color when ripe.
Another major difference is their flavor. Tomatillos have a slightly tart and tangy taste, while tomatoes are sweeter and have a more familiar taste. This makes tomatillos a popular ingredient in Mexican cuisine, where their unique flavor is used to add a tangy kick to dishes like salsa verde.
Finally, tomatillos and tomatoes are used in different ways in the kitchen. While tomatoes are often eaten raw in salads or sandwiches, tomatillos are almost always cooked before they are eaten. This is because their papery husk needs to be removed and they have a slightly tough texture that is improved by cooking.
Overall, while tomatillos and tomatoes have some similarities, they are also quite different in terms of appearance, flavor, and culinary uses.
Culinary Uses of Tomatillos
Tomatillos are a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes. One of the most popular uses for tomatillos is to make salsa verde, a tangy green salsa that is commonly served with tacos, enchiladas, and other Mexican dishes.
To make salsa verde, tomatillos are usually roasted or boiled until they are soft, then blended with other ingredients like jalapeños, cilantro, garlic, and lime juice. The result is a flavorful and slightly spicy sauce that can be used as a dip or a topping for a wide range of dishes.
Tomatillos can also be used in soups, stews, and sauces. They add a tangy flavor and a slightly thick texture to these dishes. Some recipes also call for tomatillos to be sautéed or grilled, which brings out their natural sweetness and adds a slightly smoky flavor.
In addition to savory dishes, tomatillos can also be used in sweet recipes like jams, jellies, and pies. They pair well with other fruits like strawberries and raspberries, and their tangy flavor can balance out the sweetness of these dishes.
Overall, tomatillos are a versatile and flavorful ingredient that can add a unique twist to a wide range of dishes.
Nutritional Benefits of Tomatillos
Tomatillos are a nutritious ingredient that can provide a range of health benefits. They are low in calories and fat, but high in fiber, vitamin C, and potassium.
One cup (140g) of chopped raw tomatillos contains approximately:
- 42 calories
- 0.5g fat
- 9g carbohydrates
- 2.5g fiber
- 4g sugar
- 2.5g protein
- 20% of the daily value (DV) for vitamin C
- 7% of the DV for potassium
- 4% of the DV for vitamin K
- 2% of the DV for vitamin A, calcium, and iron
Tomatillos also contain antioxidants like quercetin and kaempferol, which can help protect against cellular damage and inflammation. These compounds have been linked to a reduced risk of chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease.
Additionally, the high fiber content in tomatillos can help improve digestion and promote feelings of fullness, which can aid in weight management. The potassium in tomatillos can also help regulate blood pressure and support healthy heart function.
Overall, tomatillos are a nutrient-dense ingredient that can provide a range of health benefits.
Tips for Buying and Storing Tomatillos
When buying tomatillos, look for ones that are firm and free of bruises or blemishes. The husks should be dry and intact, and the fruit inside should be a bright green color. If the tomatillos are yellow, purple, or red, they are likely overripe and may be too sweet or mushy for certain recipes.
To store tomatillos, remove them from their husks and rinse them under cool running water. Then, pat them dry and store them in a paper bag or a container with a lid. Tomatillos can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
If you have a large quantity of tomatillos, you can also freeze them for later use. Simply remove the husks and rinse the tomatillos, then place them in a resealable freezer bag and store them in the freezer for up to six months.
When cooking with tomatillos, be sure to remove the papery husks and rinse the fruit thoroughly. Tomatillos can be boiled, roasted, sautéed, or grilled, depending on the recipe. They are a versatile ingredient that can add a tangy flavor and a slightly thick texture to a wide range of dishes.
Overall, with a few simple tips, tomatillos are easy to buy, store, and use in a variety of recipes.