Tomatillos, often overlooked in the produce aisle, are a hidden gem. Have you ever wondered what tomatillos taste like?
Tomatillos have a unique flavor profile that is slightly acidic, subtly sweet, and somewhat reminiscent of a green bell pepper or a tart apple. When cooked, their taste can shift, becoming more mellow and earthy.
How Do Tomatillos Taste?
The taste of tomatillos is a unique combination of flavors that sets them apart from other fruits and vegetables.
Here’s what you can expect when you bite into a tomatillo:
- Taste: Tomatillos have a slightly acidic and subtly sweet flavor. Some people compare the taste to a green bell pepper or a tart apple. When cooked, the acidity mellows out, and they take on a more earthy flavor.
- Texture: The texture of a tomatillo is denser and less watery than a tomato’s. The outer skin is slightly firm, while the inside is juicy. When cooked, they become softer and can be easily blended into sauces.
- Smell: Tomatillos have a fresh, vegetal smell. The aroma is not as strong as some other fruits and vegetables, but it’s distinctive and adds to the overall sensory experience of eating a tomatillo.
Understanding these characteristics of tomatillos can help you decide how to use them in your cooking. Whether you choose to use them raw in a salad or cook them down into a sauce, tomatillos can add a unique flavor profile to your dishes.
Do Tomatillos Taste Good?
Many enjoy tomatillos’ unique, slightly acidic, and subtly sweet flavor. They can add a fresh, bright note to various dishes, from salsas to stews.
One common misconception about tomatillos is that they’re just green tomatoes.
While they do share some similarities with green tomatoes, tomatillos have a very distinct flavor and texture that sets them apart.
If you’re expecting a ripe tomato’s sweet, juicy taste, you might be surprised by the tart, vegetal flavor of a tomatillo.
Another factor that can affect the taste of tomatillos is their freshness. Fresh tomatillos generally have a brighter, more vibrant flavor compared to frozen ones.
However, frozen tomatillos can still be a good option, especially if you plan to cook them, as the cooking process can help to enhance their flavor.
In some cases, people might find the taste of tomatillos too tart or sour. If this is the case, cooking the tomatillos can help to mellow out their acidity and bring out their natural sweetness.
How To Make Tomatillos Taste Better
There are several ways to make them even more delicious:
- Roasting: Roasting tomatillos can bring out their natural sweetness and reduce their tartiness. To roast tomatillos, remove the husks and rinse them to get rid of the sticky residue. Place them on a baking sheet and roast in the oven at 400°F (200°C) for about 15-20 minutes, or until they’re soft and slightly charred.
- Making Salsa: Tomatillos are a key ingredient in salsa verde, a green salsa staple in Mexican cuisine. Combine roasted tomatillos with onions, garlic, cilantro, and jalapeños in a food processor, and blend until smooth. Salsa is a delicious mix of sweet, tart, and spicy flavors.
- Pairing with the Right Ingredients: Tomatillos pair well with a variety of ingredients. Their tart flavor balances the richness of meats like pork and chicken, while their sweetness complements spicy ingredients like chili peppers.
What Does Tomatillos Look Like?
Tomatillos are unique in appearance and can be easily identified when you’re shopping at the grocery store.
Here’s what to look for:
- Size and Shape: Tomatillos are small and round, about the size of a golf ball, or a little larger. They have a similar shape to a tomato, hence their nickname “Mexican husk tomato.”
- Color: Tomatillos are usually a vibrant green color, although there are also purple and yellow varieties. The green variety is the most common and is often used in cooking.
- Husk: One of the most distinctive features of a tomatillo is its husk. The husk is a thin, papery layer that fully encloses the fruit. It’s light brown and can have a slightly sticky texture. When shopping for tomatillos, look for ones with intact husks, as this is a sign of freshness.
- Fruit: Once you peel back the husk, you’ll find the tomatillo itself. It has smooth, slightly shiny skin that’s similar to a tomato. The flesh inside is dense and contains small, edible seeds.
When buying tomatillos, choose ones that feel firm and are free from blemishes. The husks should be light brown and not overly shriveled.
These signs indicate that the tomatillos are fresh and ready to be used in your favorite recipes.
Are Tomatillos A Vegetable Or Fruit?
This is a common question that arises when discussing various types of produce, and the answer can often be surprising.
Tomatillos, like their close relative’s tomatoes, are technically fruits. However, in the culinary world, they are often treated as vegetables.
The distinction between fruits and vegetables is often based more on flavor and usage in everyday language and in the kitchen. Fruits are typically sweet and used in desserts, while vegetables are more savory and used in main dishes.
With their tart and slightly savory flavor, Tomatillos often used in savory dishes like salsas and stews, leading to them being commonly referred to as vegetables.
So, while tomatillos are technically fruits from a botanical perspective, you’ll often find them in the vegetable section at the grocery store and used as a vegetable in cooking.
Recipes And Side Dishes With Tomatillos
Here are some popular ways to incorporate tomatillos into your cooking:
- Salsa Verde: This is perhaps the most well-known use for tomatillos. Roast the tomatillos with onion, garlic, and jalapeño, then blend everything with cilantro and lime juice. The result is a tangy, spicy salsa that’s perfect for dipping chips or topping tacos.
- Chile Verde: This hearty stew features pork and tomatillos as the main ingredients. The tomatillos are cooked down into a sauce that’s flavored with green chiles, garlic, and various spices. It’s a warming, comforting dish that’s great for a chilly day.
- Tomatillo Chicken: For this dish, chicken pieces are simmered in a sauce made from tomatillos, onions, garlic, and spices. The tartness of the tomatillos pairs well with the savory chicken, creating a balanced and flavorful meal.
- Tomatillo Salad: Try making a tomatillo salad for a fresh, light side dish. Slice raw tomatillos and combine them with sliced red onion, chopped cilantro, and a simple lime vinaigrette. The crispness of the raw tomatillos adds a nice crunch to the salad.
- Tomatillo Guacamole: Give your guacamole a twist by adding chopped tomatillos. They’ll add a tartness that complements the creaminess of the avocado.
Can you eat raw tomatillos?
Yes, you can eat raw tomatillos. They have a tart, slightly acidic flavor when raw. However, cooking them can mellow the tartness and create a more complex flavor profile.
Do tomatillos taste like green tomatoes?
While tomatillos and green tomatoes have a tart flavor, they are different. Tomatillos have a unique flavor that is slightly more vegetal and less sweet than green tomatoes.
What part of the tomatillo can you eat?
The inside of the tomatillo is edible, both raw and cooked. The outer husk and stem should be removed before eating. The skin, flesh, and seeds on the inside are all edible.
What do tomatillos taste like when cooked?
When cooked, tomatillos become softer, and their flavor becomes more mellow and slightly sweet. The tartness is reduced, and they take on a more savory, earthy flavor.
My Tasty Thoughts
With their unique blend of tart and sweet flavors, Tomatillos is a fantastic addition to any home cook’s repertoire. Their distinctive taste can elevate your cooking, introducing new flavors to your meals.
Whether you choose to use them raw for a fresh, tart bite or cook them for a more mellow, earthy flavor, tomatillos are sure to take away boring weeknight meals.