When life doesn’t give you tomatoes…plant tomatillos!

This is tomatillo harvest for ONE day. I got roughly about four pounds, and the plants are still producing!

While the tomato plants sit there looking brown and pathetic, the tomatillos have taken over the bed and are producing ridiculous amounts. This year I planted them from seed for the first time, from a mix seed packet from Renee’s Garden. I am especially thrilled with the purple variety, which is more commonly used in Central Mexico. They are smaller and stay tart, where the green ones tend to hide better amongst the branches and the fruit ends up overripe, which turns them super sweet!

A lovely purple tomatillo, ready to be harvested.

from the batch I harvested last weekend I made a tomatillo salsa picada, aka pico de gallo, and served it with steamed mahi mahi wrapped in hoja santa, and a bulgur and quinoa blend that I found at HEB for a refreshing light dinner. It was awesome.

As tasty as it was pretty, my purple tomatillo salsa picada.

I harvested a lot of large, overripe ones and I am trying to figure out the best use for these. My friend Marisela from El Meson restaurant in Austin likes to use ripe tomatillos in her cooked salsa verde because they add a slightly sweet flavor. But the ones I picked are SUPER sweet and bright yellow. They are, after all, related to the gooseberry.

If I was a jam and jelly person I would try that since they are an incredible source for pectin. Maybe I should check with Stephanie at Confituras. But I prefer savory things and I think I am just going to make a traditional, simple entomatado. This is a cooked sauce made by simply stewing the chopped tomatillos with onion, garlic, chiles of your choice (I have plenty in the garden!), sea salt, and adding a bit of water or broth as it thickens. It is great with roast pork or as a stewing sauce for pork or chicken. For a very nice, complex recipe, look to my friend Roberto Santibañez‘s highly recommended book Truly Mexican (read my review of the book here), where he shares a wealth of information on how to make the best Mexican salsas, traditional and of his own creation. In fact, I will likely use one of his recipes to make a salsa I can freeze with the rest of the harvest, or perhaps I will just quick stew them, can them, and save them as a base for a mole verde or pipian once the weather cooperates.

On another garden note, I have also decided I will try to plant more veggies from seed. I suffered two disappointments with transplants this season: the Brazilian Oval Orange eggplant turned out to be a Black Beauty, and a six-pack of jalapeños that I bought for the garden at Whip-In was a mixed pack of ornamental peppers. I just need to be better about planting  plenty in advance, and need to get busy planning and building the long-awaited greenhouse so I can have space for my seedlings. If anyone has an in on used lumber, let me know!

Posted in Gardening, Recipes and tagged , .


  1. Those tomatillos are beautiful! And my big bro just might be a source for used lumber. I’ll talk to him about and let you know.

  2. My first tomatillos are just making husks! I had no luck last year, but this year I’ll have lots, I hope. They are so much fun!

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