Where Local and Global Appetites Collide

Recipe: Fried Green Tomatillos

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Recipe: Fried Green Tomatillos

According to Wikipedia, the tomatillo is a plant in the nightshade family, related to the cape gooseberry (whatever that is?), bearing small, spherical and green or green-purple fruit  of the same name. (It has seeds.)

Tomatillos, referred to as green tomato (Spanish: tomate verde) in Mexico, are a staple in Mexican cuisine. Tomatillos are grown throughout the Western Hemisphere. You can find them in some grocery stores or Latin markets or farmers markets.

Tomatillos appeared in my Tucson CSA (community supported agriculture) share last week and I wanted to use them. Suggestions for tomatillos included peeling off the husk and then grilling or roasting. Ah, that’s sounds delicious except it created a few problems.

During the months from May through September, I don’t turn on my oven because it’s too damn hot. It’s also the same reason I won’t go outside to grill unless I do it at 6 a.m. and I wasn’t that motivated. I don’t have a stove top griddle nor a toaster oven. I’m low maintenance.

However, I still wanted to eat my basket of tomatillos. Traditionally, tomatillos are used in salsa and mole sauces (mo-lay).

After removing the husk and washing, I cut a tomatillo in half to see if I could eat it raw. No. It was crunchy which was not bad, but too bitter.

So I decided to fry them – hence, fried green tomatillos.

I did have some Contadina Italian Style bread crumbs. While this worked well, I thought the crumbs were too salty. Looking at the label I noticed 1/4 cup has 720mg of sodium and worse — high fructose corn syrup. I’ll never buy this product again.

Here’s the recipe:

Olive oil or olive oil spray
3 to 5 green onions, diced including green stems
Approximately 16 to 20 tomatillos, remove husks, wash well, cut in half or thirds depending on the size (should be uniform)
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup bread crumbs or flour (whole wheat flour would be good too)
1 tsp Mano Y Metate* chili verde powder or red chili powder or ground cayenne pepper.
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp coriander
freshly ground pepper
(use salt if using flour only)

Heat a frying pan, add olive oil. Saute green onions for 2 minutes. Combine the spices/cheese with the crumbs/flour. Dip the tomatillos into beaten egg, then roll in the crumbs/cheese/spice mix. Fry until caramelized or charred. When caramelized the bitterness goes away and the sweetness creates magic.

Of course, it tasted better the next day. On hand, I had some cooked and diced Yukon gold potatoes and threw them into the frying pan for about 2 minutes.

Top with a dollop of sour cream and tablespoon of red salsa. (Serves 3 or 4 side dishes.)

*Mano Y Metate – This is a Tucson-based company. You can buy products online or at various retail throughout Tucson and a few places in New Mexico. Otherwise, use regular red chili powder or ground cayenne pepper.

  1. That was a brilliant idea! Maybe you could use corn meal instead of those salty bread crumbs. I’ve had fried green tomatoes with cormeal in a restaurant once. Panko crumbs would be great too since they are so crunchy.

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