Physalis is one of my favorite genera of plants. Not aesthetically or even culinarily, but because of it’s family relations. Physalis philadelphica, also known as the tomatillo, is a close relative of Physalis alkekengi, those bright orange Chinese lantern plants that fill gardens and vases each fall.
“But wait,” you’re thinking, “isn’t the tomatillo related to the tomato?” Well yes, they are both members of the nightshade, or Solanaceae family. However, that makes them about as similar as other Solanaceae including potatoes, eggplants, peppers and even the petunias in your pots.
Now you’re thinking, “who cares?” True, this knowledge won’t impact your ability to make a great salsa. It may, however, make it more fun.
I’ve tried it boiled and roasted, but this simple, fresh salsa is light and easy, citrusy and bright. Peeling a tomatillo involves removing the papery skin and washing them clean, they may still be a little sticky. The glossy green skin gets eaten.
- 4-6 tomatillos, peeled, washed and cut in quartered
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro – stems and all
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice, about 1 fresh lime
- 1 jalapeño
- Place tomatillos, garlic, cilantro and lime in the bowl of a food processor.
- Slice jalapeño in half, and using a teaspoon (eating not measuring) remove the seeds and ribs. Roughly chop and add to food processor. Wash hands with soap and water for 30-60 seconds. Don’t touch your face, anywhere, for the next 10 hours. Wear gloves to bed.*
- Pulse until finely chopped, but not liquified. Add a tablespoon or two of water to thin, if needed.
- Eat with tortilla chips or fish tacos.
*In this age of hysteria, I would like to qualify this statement as hyperbole. Chile peppers aren’t that dangerous, but don’t rub your eyes or lick your fingers for a little while.