How to grow and eat tomatillos

Bring a little Mexico to your kitchen garden

tomatillo dip
Photo: Thomas J. Story; styling by Randy Mon

How to grow tomatillos

Plant: Set out nursery seedlings (or grow your own; seeds available from Botanical Interests) in rich, well-draining soil, 2 to 3 feet apart, in full sun about a month after frost has passed.

Raise: Stake plants as you would tomatoes—they’ll eventually reach about 4 feet tall and wide. Keep soil moist until fruit develops, then let soil dry out between waterings.

Reap: Harvest tomatillos when they’re green and walnut-size; they’ll have a lemony tartness that mellows nicely in cooking. Remove the papery outer husks when you’re ready to use the fruit, and rinse off the sticky residue.

How to cook with tomatillos

Guacamole: Broil halved tomatillos, turning often, until starting to blacken; let cool. Mix them in a bowl with chopped onion, jalapeño chile, and cilantro. Add fresh lime juice and cubed avocados; mash mixture with a fork to combine.

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Make a marinade: 

Mix puréed broiled tomatillos with fresh lime juice, chopped serrano chile, and a pinch of salt. Add a little olive oil and use to marinate fish, shrimp, or chicken before grilling.

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Make Tomatillo Chicken Soup: 

Slice tomatillos and boil until tender. Purée, then combine with chicken broth, shredded chicken, jalapeño chile, and canned hominy. Serve with sour cream, tortilla chips, and cilantro.

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