Tomatillos: What Are They? | The Flying Foodie

How many times have you seen these in the supermarket and wondered, “What is it?” But more importantly, “What would I do with it?” “It” is a tomatillo (pronounced toe-muh-tee’ yoh). It is a member of the tomato family but has a very di erent taste. Sweeter and less acidic than a tomato, it is meatier on the inside.

Tomatillos can be used raw or cooked in foods, and are mostly associated with Mexican cuisine. ey are naturally covered with a paper-like husk that must be removed before prepping them for use in your recipe. Tomatillos range in size from a cherry tomato to a plum.

When buying, choose the smaller tomatillos — they are better tasting and sweeter than the larger ones. Store them on your kitchen counter or in the refrigerator — they will keep for several weeks. ey can even be frozen whole or sliced. If you are not going to use them immediately, leave the husks on the fruit to protect them and increase shelf life.

ere are several new fruits and vegetable making their way to our local supermarkets and farmer’s markets everyday. Don’t be afraid to research and experiment with new o erings.

Slow Cooked Pork Tenderloin with Tomatillo Sauce

Tomatillos: What Are They? | The Flying Foodie

Serves 3-4

  • 5 tomatillos, husks removed, washed, and cut in half
  • 3 poblano chile peppers, or Anaheim chiles (See Tip 1)
  • 1⁄2 large red onion, sliced
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pork tenderloin (1-1/2 to 2 pounds) silverskin removed (see Tip 2 below)
  • 11⁄2 teaspoon Chef Belinda Blackened Spice Blend
  • 1 can re-roasted diced tomatoes 1 teaspoon chipotle chile pepper (this spice can be purchased at the market)

Preheat oven to 400°. Into a shallow baking pan place tomatillos and chiles and roast for 20 minutes. Remove tomatillos and set aside until cool. Turn chiles over and let roast another 15 minutes or until charred. Remove from oven, place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. When cool, cut tomatillo halves in half again. When chiles are cool, remove charred skin, stems and seeds.

In the bottom of a slow cooker, place onion slices and half of the garlic. Season the pork tenderloin with the blackened spice blend and lay on top of the vegetables. Sprinkle the remaining garlic on top of the tenderloin. Add the roasted chiles, diced tomatoes, and roasted tomatillos. Sprinkle the chipotle chile pepper all over the top and stir gently. Cook on low, covered, for 5-6 hours until meat is tender.

When done, slice or chunk the tenderloin and serve over Mexican rice with juice and vegetables on top. is pork tenderloin would also be excellent shredded in tacos.

Chicken Enchiladas Verde

Tomatillos: What Are They? | The Flying Foodie

Serves 8

  • Sauce (approximately 4 cups)
  • 2 pounds tomatillos, husks removed and washed
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1⁄2 cup chicken stock
  • 2-3 jajapeño chiles, veins and seeds removed
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves 1⁄2 chopped onion
  • Juice of 1⁄2 lime
  • Kosher salt


  • 2 cups shredded chicken (homemade or rotisserie)
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Olive oil
  • 8 – 6″ tortillas
  • 11⁄2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese (or Mexican cheese mix)
  • Green onions, sliced for garnish
  • Cilantro, roughly chopped for garnish

Preheat oven to 400°. Roast tomatillos for 20 minutes until soft. Remove from oven and set aside. Into a blender add the tomatillos, garlic and stock and puree. Add the chiles, cilantro, onion, lime juice, and salt and puree again until smooth. Transfer to a bowl; taste and add more salt if needed. In a large bowl, toss chicken with coriander, pepper akes and salt.

In a medium skillet, heat olive oil over medium- high heat. Fry tortillas, one at a time, for about 10 seconds on each side. Transfer to a paper towel covered plate to drain. In a 13×9 baking dish, spread 1 cup of the sauce over the bottom.

Working one at a time, ll each tortilla with about 1⁄4 cup of chicken mixture and a tablespoon of cheese. Roll the tortilla and place in baking dish seam side down. Repeat until all tortillas are lled. Cover with remaining sauce and bake for 30-35 minutes until the sauce is bubbling. Remove from oven and sprinkle with remaining cheese, green onions and cilantro. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Tomatillo-Chile Salsa

Tomatillos: What Are They? | The Flying Foodie

Makes approximately 2 cups

  • 10 medium tomatillos
  • 4 poblano chile peppers
  • 4 serrano chile peppers (jalapeños if you want less heat)
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon coriander seeds, toasted, and crushed
  • Juice of 1 to 2 limes (according to your taste)
  • 1⁄2 bunch cilantro, nely chopped
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Tortilla chips for serving

Preheat the oven broiler and position an oven rack 4 to 6 inches below the broiler. Wash and dry the tomatillos (remembering to remove the husks) and chile peppers. Into a shallow baking pan, place tomatillos and chiles and broil for 4 to 5 minutes on each side until charred. Remove from oven and set the tomatillos aside. Place the chile peppers in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. When chiles are cool, remove charred skins, stems and seeds.

Roughly chop the tomatillos, chiles and onions. Into a blender or food processor add the tomatillos, chiles, onions, garlic and coriander. Pulse until blended but not pureed—still a bit chunky. Add lime juice, cilantro and salt and pulse an additional 2-3 seconds. Serve with tortilla chips, or on tacos, tostados or nachos.

Tip 1: Always wear plastic gloves when handling hot chiles to protect your skin; and depending on the level of heat in the chiles, add additional layers of gloves. Never touch or rub your eyes when handling any chiles — fresh, dried or roasted.

Tip 2: If you don’t know how to remove the silverskin from pork tenderloin, refer to:

 Chef Belinda

Belinda Smith-Sullivan is a food writer, personal chef, and pilot who enjoys exploring the “off the beaten path” culinary world. Her love of cooking and entertaining motivated her to give up a corporate career to pursue a degree in Culinary Arts from Johnson & Wales University. Now living in Aiken, she currently markets her own spice line called Chef Belinda Spices which can be purchased at Visit Chef Belinda at Recently she was inducted into Les Dames d’Escof er, Charleston chapter.