Out of the Husk, a Tomatillo Sauce from Chef Hans
From the kitchens of Cayuga Pure Organics in Brooktondale and Mexeo in Ithaca, welcome Chef Hans Butler. He’ll be giving us a view from the back of the house, as an expert in ringing out the most from our in-season goods. Recently, that meant developing a Horchata for Mexeo using local CPO grains.
Here, he’s given us a simple solution for that husked fruit now ripe for picking across the area: the tomatillo.—Jessie Cacciola
In upstate New York, the months of August and September bring many rounds of great-tasting produce. It’s time to indulge in tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and another wonderful member of the nightshade family… the tomatillo.
The tomatillo has a paper-like husk on the outside and looks like a round paper lantern hanging on the vine. As the fruit ripens the paper husk becomes thin and sometimes brown, and the tomatillo will eventually grow large enough to fill or break through its shell. It will have a bright green-to-yellow color and a nice tart flavor that lends itself well to traditional Mexican sauces and dishes. There are also purple and red varieties of tomatillos, but I like the tartness of the traditional green.
Walking to the back corner of the u-pick gardens at Three Swallows Farm last weekend, I noticed a partial row of tomatillos with at least three pounds of ripe fruit. On my way to pick a nice handful of jalapeños to use with the tomatillos, I overheard a few folks discussing what one would do with such an odd fruit. Here’s an idea.
Chef Hans’s Salsa Verde
Tart, vibrant green and spicy—a simple salsa verde that’s great to have on hand in a squeeze bottle. Makes 4-5 cups.
- 1 ½ lb tomatillos, husk removed and rinsed
- 1 cup onions, small dice
- 3 jalapeños, small dice
- ½ cup water
- Sea salt, to taste
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the tomatillos and cook for 6 to 7 minutes, remove with a slotted spoon and reserve.
In a food processor or blender, add tomatillos, onions, jalapeño, water and sea salt. Blend until the mixture has a smooth consistency – adjust seasoning if necessary
Store in a squeeze bottle in the refrigerator. Will keep for up to two weeks, or six months in the freezer.
Chef Hans Butler brought us the beloved Watercress restaurant in Fall Creek from 2005-2008. He now develops recipes for Cayuga Pure Organics and Mexeo, where you’re likely to find things like local grain-sourced Horchata. You can also find him foraging for wild edibles or fermenting something.