feast magazine article, sides

feast magazine, june 2015: savory tomatillo crumble.

savory tomatillo gratin.

Summer is coming, and it’s bringing these tomatillos, a.k.a my Mystery Shopper ingredient for the June issue of Feast. Let’s get to it.

This Month’s Mystery Ingredient: Tomatillos

Also Goes By: Tomate Verde, Husk Tomato, Mexican Husk Tomato, Husk Cherry, Jamberry, Ground Cherry. They are not American green tomatoes, just so you know.

Hails from: Mexico, but grown all over the Western Hemisphere

Recipe: Savory Tomatillo Crumble

Find it: Tomatillos are sort of everywhere, right? At least in the United States, during spring and summer, even on into the fall. If you don’t see them, ask your grocer: typically they’ll start coming in small numbers which increase as the summer soldiers on. I’ve seen them everywhere recently: from my local grocery, to farmers’ markets, to big box stores that carry grocery items. Latin or international markets are always a good place to find them, but right now, you shouldn’t have to search too hard.

savory tomatillo gratin.

Uses: The world is your tomatillo, really: use them all over the place. You can grill them (brushed with a little oil), bake them (as I did in this crumble), or eat them raw in salsa or salads. I’ll be spending the summer making salsas with them because you can’t get a fresher, snappy taste anywhere. I love them. They’d be great as an alternative to traditionally tomato bruschetta right now because their flavor is pure summer.

Do whatever with them: sometimes I just slice and eat. Make sure you get that husk off and rinse them well to wash the sticky coating off, and after that? Enjoy. Make the most of your time with these, because they’ll go back into hiding around the time kids head back to school this fall.

I love this crumble: it’s based on a tomato gratin thing I’ve made for years now – a pretty straightforward one involving plum tomatoes, basil, parm, and bread cubes. I love that one, but this one is special. Tomatillos don’t get as smushy as tomatoes when baked, and their sweet-tartness really shines through in this application. The crumble on top is not to be missed, either: let it get brown and don’t be scared: it’s the perfect crispy blanket to the almost pillowy-soft tomatillos and tomatoes underneath.

Some things that caught my eye this month in the magazine:

A little history of the margarita, plus recipe. I’ll be having some many all of those this summer. Also, that green-tinted glass juicer and this whole photo here are beautiful: nice job, Jonathan, because that’s one gorgeous photo of a drink.

Bethany, who spends much of her time finding mistakes in my work (in a helpful, great way) reminds me that I need to get the Moosewood Cookbook. I mean, it’s only been out since before I was born, so I feel like it’s time.

I think it’s clear by now that I can’t keep my hands off a mediterranean salad.

Someone take me to visit this chicken farm. Immediately. Photographed by Jennifer, who can capture an animal face like none other. Someday I’m going to collect all her animal photos and hang them in my kitchen. Dead serious. You should see this one sheep photo…I digress.

You know what? Every single feature in this issue is more interesting than I could ever pull off. Just go read; it’s gorgeous and breathtaking and I’m totally  lame by comparison. Go read.

All I want to do sometimes is own a farm and be amazing; that’s what this issue makes me want to do. Or just be amazing with lots of vegetables. Maybe a few chickens and sheep. Cows are big and I’m not sure I could handle all that. Alpacas, maybe.

Anyway, you want to get in the mood for summer? Grab the magazine if you’re local. if you’re not, see it as I see it by clicking over to the digital issue, or read this month’s stories online. Also, that TV show, tho.

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  • Reply John@Kitchen Riffs May 31, 2015 at 6:55 pm

    Tomatillos are great, aren’t they? But for some reason I rarely use them — strange, because I do like them. This crumble looks wonderful, BTW — very creative. And you should at least browse the Moosewood Cookbook — loads of fun.

    • Reply shannon June 17, 2015 at 8:56 am

      I feel like that’s the general consensus with people: we love them, but we barely use them – i’m guilty of it too. It is odd: i think they should maybe give them a more prominent place on grocery shelves? I always find them hiding in the back like an after thought, which is unfair.

      All of you say such good things about Moosewood that i’m now convinced i should own it. I’m going to put it in my amazon cart.

  • Reply Brianne June 1, 2015 at 5:52 am

    Oh, girl. You do need to get the Moosewood Cookbook! It’s one of my favorites–her curries are amazing! She has a new-ish book out–The Heart of the Plate–that I’d love to get my hands on. So…are the little yellow things called ground cherries that I find at the farmers market the same as full grown tomatillos? They have husks, and now that I think about it, their flavor, appearance, and texture are really similar to tomatillos. I am not a fan of either–the taste and the texture don’t do it for me, but I’m so curious!

    • Reply shannon June 17, 2015 at 8:54 am

      I have officially put the Moosewood Cookbook on the list: that list is large, but i scooted it up towards the top because i do feel like it’s obviously stood the test of time. I’ve heard good things about The Heart of the Plate as well; i need to find a day to wander up to the bookstore and feel my way through some of these so i know which ones to add to my library (because i don’t have millions of dollars and i want to add all of them, and yet i can’t). 🙂

      Ground cherries! i never see them here, but in my research for tomatillos, i’ve discovered they’re closely related, if not exactly the same thing. Seems like some people do call them “ground cherries” b/c they look almost identical and have the same husk thing, but they’re cousins rather than identical twins, basically. I’ve never had a ground cherry, so i’m not sure how their flavor compares, but if they’re as similar in texture and flavor as you say, i would bet they’d make a lovely stand-in for tomatillos in this.

      If your’e not a fan of the flavor and texture of the raw tomatillo, you may want to give roasting them a shot: it completely changes all of that. Mellows the flavor and gives it a sort of smokiness, and makes the texture that of a roasted green chile? and i feel like maybe you like roasted green chile, so there may be hope for you liking tomatillos and ground cherries, just cooked versus raw.

  • Reply natalie @ wee eats June 2, 2015 at 12:11 pm

    Our markets are filled to the top with tomatillos and this looks so amazing and perfect. I’m definitely presenting this to Mr. Eats as a mystery side dish and hoping he eats it (or doesn’t, because MORE FOR ME!)

    • Reply shannon June 17, 2015 at 8:28 am

      when i picture AZ greenmarkets in the summer, i basically picture a TON of prickly pears, cactus leaves, and tomatillos. also avocado. oh, and peppers. It’s very vibrant in my mind, and i feel like you all really have the freshest summer things in the world. If i can get amazing tomatillos here, i can’t even begin to wrap my head around the bounty that you have.

      Mr. Eats will LOVE this. It’s just tomatoes…everyone thinks that that’s all they are anyway so just say that.

  • Reply Ashley June 2, 2015 at 8:35 pm

    Umm, I need this asap! I love tomatillos but don’t use them in anything other than salsa (fresh or roasted, soooo good, especially with chicken or my favorite tortilla chips). I’m so excited! Also, I’d be happy to share all those margaritas with you 🙂 As for living on a farm, I suspect I’d be miserable at it. I can barely keep up with the demands of one very cute kitten.

    • Reply shannon June 17, 2015 at 8:24 am

      I am frankly so surprised that tomatillos don’t fly off the shelves in summer: could you get any fresher? does anything say summer in the produce department quite like a tomatillo? One could argue that there’s a few things that fall into the “total summer” category, but tomatillos are just always so bracingly fresh and perfect for hot weather, i think.

      That’s sort of where my farm dreams go: i think “wow that would be fun…but the work…” and then i realize i’d be horrible at it unless i basically just lived AT the farm and had someone else doing everything. Really, i’d just run around and pet things, maybe grab some herbs and vegetables and fruit when i was hungry. I’d be a pretty horrible actual farmer, 100% sure.

  • Reply Deb|EastofEdenCooking June 4, 2015 at 6:04 pm

    I’ve used tomatillos in salsa and chili verde but haven’t ventured any further! Will remedy this soon! Thank you for expanding my tomatillo knowledge. Growing up we lived in the county with a huge garden and lots of animals. It was fun, but oh so much work….

    • Reply shannon June 17, 2015 at 8:10 am

      Oh Deb, they’re delicious in this, I promise you. Prior to this, i had done the same as you: salsa and chili verde, sometimes in guacamole, but nothing further. But this is super summery, and with such great tomato/tomatillo flavor that you’re going to crave it all summer long. I know i have big plans to make this in florida once i get there for vacation, because i feel like everyone will really love it.

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