Glance at the spelling of a tomatillo and you may think someone flubbed “tomato.” See one in the market and you may think it’s a very unripe version thereof. But rest assured, their name is legit and while they’re related to the tomato, tomatillos are not to be mistaken for green tomatoes, those Southern fried favorites.
Native to Mexico and part of the nightshade family, tomatillos come in colors such as yellow, red and purple, but most commonly are green. They can be a harder to find in mass market stores than the ubiquitous tomato, but are readily available – and very inexpensive – at Hispanic grocers such as Northgate. I also regularly see them at local Food 4 Less stores and even H Mart, a wonderful Asian grocer. Wherever you find them, tomatillos are worth seeking out.
Like tomatoes, tomatillos are technically a fruit, and here that fact is easier to believe. Tomatillos can be eaten raw or cooked, but before using in any manner require some undressing. That’s because tomatillos are protected by an outer husk that is easily peeled off. Once disrobed, you should find a plump-yet-firm, glossy green globe. The husk can leave a slightly sticky residue, so rinse well and pat dry before using. Tomatillos will stay fresh in a refrigerator for about two weeks, so making them easy to keep on hand.