Tomatillos and Salsa Verde

I don’t know quite why, but earlier this year I ordered some tomatillo seeds. All I knew about them was that they were used in Mexican cooking, but could be grown here in the UK, and were highly productive plants – a bit like sprawling tomato plants.

Well, that last bit was certainly right! Here are some of them. There are gherkins in the foreground, a line of tomatillos behind them, and sweetcorn behind the tomatillos:

They flower and fruit prolifically, and the bees love the flowers.

Tomatillos are a species of Physalis which includes Cape gooseberry, ground cherry, and Chinese Lanterns. Physalis Philadelphica has a number of varieties. We bought ours from Seeds by Size and got a few of each of the five that he offers

Only the Pineapple Tomatillos didn’t germinate, so we’ve got some of each of the others. Here are the purple ones:

and the Cisineros (I think – we’ve rather lost track of which plants are which!)

We picked a bowlful, together with a nice mild chilli also from the allotment to make into salsa verde:

The recipe we used:

About 1 1/2 lb tomatillos, husked and rinsed
1 mild chilli, deseeded (we didn’t want too hot a salsa, but the original recipe called for 2 jalapenos, so feel free to hot it up)
1 medium onion peeled and quartered
3 cloves garlic cloves peeled
handful fresh flat-leaved parsley (cilantro) leaves coarsely chopped
Juice of 1 lime (or lemon)
1 pinch cumin

Bring a pot of water to a boil; add the tomatillos, chillis, onion, and garlic. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the tomatillos are semi-soft. Drain and cool slightly, reserving some of the liquid. Put the drained ingredients into a blender. Add the cilantro, lime juice, and cumin. Puree for a few seconds to blend, adding a little liquid if necessary (we found that it didn’t need extra liquid) to a coarse puree. Don’t make it too smooth. Taste and season with a generous (this is key!) pinch of salt.

And here’s the finished product.

Delicious with warm tortillas with your aperitif.

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