September 7, 2009

Tomatillo and Tomato Salad with Serrano + Lime

Tomatillos resemble little green tomatoes that have been wrapped in a thin papery husk. They are related to the gooseberry and, like tomatoes, are part of the nightshade family. However they have a fruity and subtly sweet and sour flavor.

Tomatillos are often used in salsa verde, a sauce that also includes green chilis, lime, and cilantro, and is used widely in Mexican and Southwestern cooking. Salsa verde had been my only experience with the tomatillo until yesterday, when, pondering what to do with the tomatillos I'd brought home from the farmers' market, I decided to build a salad around them with heirloom tomatoes, serrano chili, fresh herbs, and lime juice, to accompany a lime-marinated, grass-fed skirt steak. It was a delicious combination.

I used basil and parsley in the salad because those were the herbs I had on hand, but cilantro would also be great. With the pale green tomatillos, orange and yellow tomatoes, and deep green herbs, this salad is as beautiful as it is delicious.

Tomatillo and Tomato Salad with Serrano + Lime
Serves 2-4

5-6 tomatillos
2 ripe tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 1-1/2 cups)
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp roughly chopped fresh basil leaves
2 Tbsp roughly chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 serrano chili, with stem, seeds, and pith removed, minced
Juice of 1 lime (about 2 Tbsp)
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
  • Remove papery husks from the tomatillos and rinse well under warm water to remove the sticky substance on their skins. 
  • Slice tomatillos thinly and transfer to a bowl with the chopped tomatoes. Sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt, toss to combine, and allow to sit for about 10 minutes (this draws water out of the fruits and brings out their sweetness).
  • Stir in red onion, herbs, serrano chili, lime juice, and olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve.

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