One of the hallmarks of a healthy diet is consuming a variety of foods. We have been given a wide array of foods, each providing different nutrients to keep our bodies healthy. Even within a food group, each food contains its own unique nutrient profile. If you eat a variety of these foods, you are more likely to eat a diet rich in needed nutrients. Friday Food Focus will highlight a different food each month. We will talk about its nutritional benefits, how to prepare and store the food, and provide links to recipes containing that food.
The featured food this month is tomatillos, also known as the Mexican husk tomato. You have probably seen them in your local grocery store or farmer’s market, usually among the hot peppers or tomatoes. Tomatillos are about the size of a small plum; and the fruit is covered with a papery husk that you remove before eating. They are usually green or yellow, but can be purple or even red.
Nutritionally, tomatillos are low in calories and sodium, and like most vegetables are low in fat and saturated fat. They are a good source of Vitamin C and fiber, and a fair source of Vitamin K, making them a healthy addition to your menu.
Tomatillos are tart on the tongue with a slight lime-like flavor, making them an ideal complement to spicy foods and dishes. They are the base for Mexican green sauce – salsa verde.
Look for tomatillos that are firm, unblemished, and that fully fill the husk. They can be stored loosely wrapped, with husks intact, on the counter for a few days. Refrigerate them for longer storage (1-2 weeks), or freeze.
Remove the husks prior to eating or cooking. You will find the skin is sticky underneath the husk. This is normal. Simply rinse the sticky coating off the tomatillo with water before using.
Tomatillos can be used raw. Chop them and add to salsa or a salad for a refreshing change. Cook them by simmering or roasting to soften the fruit and then puree or crush as needed for your recipe.
My favorite way to use tomatillos is by making a simple green sauce that can used immediately or frozen for later use. When winter hits, you will have a supply of green sauce that you can use for soups, salsas, or other dishes like enchiladas.
Try incorporating tomatillos into your recipes today and add a little more variety to your diet. Have you cooked with tomatillos at home? What’s your favorite way to use them? I would love to hear about it in the comments below.