Corn and Tomatillo Salsa

“What are those?” a customer asked, eyeing a basket of green tomatillos. “And what do we do with them?” Tomatillos, available at Allen and Silverbrook farms, are part of the extended tomato family.

You may already know the sweet little husk-tomatoes at the market, with their hints of strawberry or pineapple, which are eaten as fruit. They have papery outer coverings that look like Chinese lanterns. Green tomatillos look like overgrown husk-tomatoes, but instead of tasting sweet, they’re sour. That’s their charm. They make refreshing salsas for fish and poultry or for scooping up with tortilla chips.

Añejo’s salsa verde is made with tomatillos; for the recipe, see page 4 in Cape Cod Chef’s Table.

Here’s another recipe that mixes tart tomatillos with the sweetness of late summer corn.

Corn and Tomatillo Salsa 

  • 1 large ear of corn, husks removed
  • 4 oz tomatillos, husks removed
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 small jalapeno or other green chili pepper, finely chopped
  • 1-2 scallions depending on size, including nice greens
  • 1Tbs. roughly chopped cilantro
  • A small squeeze of lime juice

Remove husks from corn, brush with oil, and cook, turning, on a hot grill pan/ grill until corn is tender and scorched in several places. Shave corn kernels from cob. Put in a bowl and add cumin, briefly toasted in a dry pan to bring out its aromas. Set aside.

Quarter small tomatillos, or cut larger ones into small neat chunks. Put a ½ cup of water in a pan, and whisk in ¼ teaspoon of salt and 2 teaspoons olive oil; bring to the boil (watch for spatters.) Turn heat down low, add tomatillos and stir gently until tomatillo flesh becomes mostly translucent, but isn’t starting to fall apart.

Take off heat and let tomatillos finish cooking in the cooling liquid, which by now will taste pleasantly sour. Stir in chopped jalapeno, with some seeds if you like more heat.

Slice scallion, making slanting cuts. Add scallions and roughly chopped cilantro to the tomatillo, with a squeeze of lime juice to taste. Ladle tomatillos with all their liquid and seasonings into the bowl of corn. Stir gently and check seasoning. Serves 3- 4.

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