Have I ever mentioned that purple is my favorite color? I find the color exhilarating and like plants that bear purple fruits and vegetables, including tomatillos.
Our tomatillo plants were slow this year along with everything else in the garden. The extended cold, wet spring put a damper on things, making everything slow to grow and blossom. We finally harvested some tomatillos a few weeks ago, much later than last year, and with the early cold snap this week we didn’t get much of a growing season at all. All we can do is preserve what we have and hope for better next year.
This was our second year for growing tomatillos, and we planted two green and two purple, both of which took off in late July and shot up to about nine feet tall. The purple tomatillo fruits are generally smaller than the green, with shades ranging from bright amethyst to almost black.
The interiors are only slightly lighter in color than the exterior, and the salsa is a brilliant purple.
When the cold snap hit this week we started pulling things off the plants, hoping to save as much as possible. The tomatillos stopped producing but still have hundreds of little paper lanterns hanging from the four plants. Fortunately they stand up to cold better than tomatoes and peppers, so we have a little time to finish the harvest. We’ll roast the rest, make them into salsa, and freeze it for the winter. I don’t like to process salsa because it tastes cooked rather than fresh, but I do recommend using the salsa within a couple months before it gets freezer burn and loses flavor.
Roasting the tomatillos is easy, just spread them out onto a sheet pan lined with aluminum foil and cook under the broiler until they char, about 6 to 8 minutes. Once roasted, the tomatillos can be thrown into a blender with your own blend of chiles, cilantro, garlic, onion, limes, whatever sounds good, and you’ll have roasted tomatillo salsa. This works with either the green or purple tomatillos, and we make both. This year the tomatillos, garlic, and serrano chiles all came from our garden.
This is my contribution to Grow Your Own, a blogging event that celebrates the dishes we create from foods we've grown, raised, foraged, or hunted ourselves. I am the host for this final event of 2009, and you can send your post information to me. Posts are due on October 30. Grow Your Own is taking a winter break this year while we tend to some family matters, but we’ll be back in the spring ready for more fun. If you would like to host in 2010, please drop me a note. If you are new to the event, you can read more about the rules for participating and find the links to previous events at the Grow Your Own page.
Oven-Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
- baking sheet lined with heavy duty aluminum foil
- jars to store in the refrigerator
- 3 pounds tomatillos (color of your choice, husked and rinsed)
- ½ medium onion (quartered (red for purple tomatillos, white for green tomatillos))
- 1 fresh chile (stemmed, Serrano or jalapeno work well)
- 3 cloves garlic (peeled)
- ½ cup cilantro leaves and tiny stems (rinsed and patted dry)
- ½ lime (juiced)
- Spread the tomatillos out on the lined baking sheet stem side down. Place under broiler until charred, about 6 to 8 minutes. Some will crack and release juice, and that’s ok. Add tomatillos and juice to the blender jar.
- On a dry skillet, toast the onion, chile, and garlic, turning until charred on all sides. Add to the blender jar. (Note: Remove the seeds of the chile if you want a milder salsa.)
- Add the cilantro and lime juice to the blender jar. Blend all for a few seconds. Pour into a large bowl and serve, or pour into jars and refrigerate for up to 1 week. Can also freeze in plastic containers. I use the Ball Plastic Freezer Jars.