So, it's spring. Well, sort of anyway. Maybe just a wee bit late.
Ms. Avops and myself are going out to pick up some pepper plants for the mini garden that replaced our huge sprawling garden from years back. So first we hit the local grocery store... green bell peppers are sold out, sorry. Next, we hit the local greenhouse... same story. Then we head a little farther out of town to the lady who sells plants in front of her house. Now this is a kind of sad statement as to the regulation of small home-based growers. Seems that this gal, who for years has been selling her greenhouse starter plants at very competitive prices has been shut down by the township. Big Brother told her that there were too many cars stopping to buy her products and that it was causing a nuisance to someone and gave her a cease and desist order. Pretty sad, she always had a good selection of very healthy plants at really good prices. I'm guessing she was causing a loss of profit to the well connected “legitimate business” around here.
Anyway, with that option scratched of the list, off we go to the “Big Box” store in the next town over. Yay! They still have some garden vegetable plants! So we make our way through the elbow-to-elbow crowds to the vegetable section.... and.... there are 2, yes, TWO green bell pepper plants left. One looked like a survivor of a drone strike and the other looked like maybe it was coming down with a case of capsicum fever.... so I grabs the flat of feverish looking peppers and am ready to make a quick escape from the hordes in the “Big Box” open air prison complex.
Suddenly, I realize that Ms. Avops is nowhere to be found........ rats.
So off I go in search of the missing woman. Quickly scanning the writhing hordes, I spot a waving arm! There's the Ms. right back where I started. So I make my way back, bouncing off a few plant zombies, and meet Ms. A right where I got my green pepper treasures. She has a big smile and a flat of decent looking pepper-like plants in her hand. She says "these are the ones we are going to buy!"
OK, at this point I'm ready to crawl over the barb wire fence to get out of there. She takes my flat of feverish looking green peppers and puts them back on the shelf and gives me HER flat of decent looking green peppers.
Zoom... we're outta there!
Back a the ranch, I get the planter ready for the green peppers and start removing them from the fancy pot, noticing that the leaves are a little different than what I remember from green peppers, I spy some microscopic writing on the side of the flat. So I go get my magnifying glass (yes, I'm at THAT age) and low and behold.... we are the proud owners of a flat of tomatillos!
Great! Now what the heck are tomatillos? Off to the inter-web to do some research.
So, I find out that the tomatillo is:
Great again! Now, what are we gonna do with 'em? Turns out they are pretty easy to grow (probably has something to do with the field weed thing) and..... they are considered an essential ingredient for authentic salsa (among other things).“a native to Mexico and domesticated by the Aztecs around 800 B.C., tomatillos are one of our most ancient food-bearing plants. Today, you can grow varieties of the same two species the Aztecs grew. Physalis ixocarpa is commonly sold in markets and has large (up to 2 ½-inch-diameter) tart green fruits, which ripen to pale yellow. P. philadelphica produces sweeter, marble-size purple fruits. This species is a common field weed in Mexico, but it is no less delicious. “
Alrighty then, here's a few ways to use these critters if you ever happen to get stuck with some tomatillos.
Smoky Salsa Verde
Roast a large unpeeled onion, five unpeeled garlic cloves, two to five chile peppers (such as Serrano, poblano, or Anaheim), and 1 pound tomatillos on a charcoal grill or in a heavy, ungreased skillet on top of the stove until charred and soft. Peel the onion, garlic, and peppers and cut into chunks. Pulse all ingredients briefly in a food processor along with sea salt, a handful of cilantro, and a generous squirt of fresh lime juice. Serve with chips or use to smother cheese enchiladas.
Crisp Fried Tomatillos
Halve the fruits. Beat an egg with a ½ cup of milk. Prepare a shallow bowl of seasoned flour and another of cornmeal. Toss the fruits first in flour, then in the egg mixture, then roll in cornmeal. Fry in olive oil in a nonstick skillet until crisp and golden.
Puree 2½ cups raw tomatillos with ten cilantro sprigs. Measure 2 cups of this puree. In a medium saucepan, sautée a finely chopped small onion in 1 tablespoon olive oil until soft. Add 1 cup rice and cook, stirring, five minutes longer. Add the puree and 1 teaspoon salt, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook 20 to 30 minutes, until all liquid is absorbed.
And... drumroll please....
Combine tomatillos, cilantro, and onion for a classic salsa combo!
And there you have it! Enjoy! It's Summertime!!