Monday, September 29, 2008

Out of the Box, Week 14

I'm back! I apologize for the posting drought. After a frustrating month of borrowed cameras, I finally got a new camera and will resume regular posting. These tomatillos came in the box on week 14 (September 19th). I've always been intrigued by tomatillos - their brilliant color! the contrast between smooth skin and papery husk! - but I've never actually tried them. Once again, this CSA has expanded my boundaries.

The weekend the tomatillos arrived, Dan and I went back to Maine for our niece's birthday party. We got in late after picking up my little brother Zach and his girlfriend Maria from the bus station. As I unpacked the CSA box, we all stood around the kitchen chatting. When I pulled out the tomatillos, Maria, who's from Texas, got very excited. She described the flavor as like a tomato, but more tangy and sour - as though infused with lime. This description fueled my excitement, as lime is one of my all-time favorite flavors. If the acid weren't so bad for my teeth, I would eat a whole lime every single day.

I took Maria's advice and decided to use the tomatillos for a green salsa. I was surprised to find the tomatillos were much more firm than tomatoes, but it gave the salsa a nice, chunky texture without too much juice. I husked and sliced three tomatillos and threw them in the mini-Cuisinart with an onion, a jalapeno, a few cloves of garlic, and a squirt of lemon juice. The result was delicious, but way too hot! My mistake was throwing in the whole jalapeno (and some seeds) without testing it first. I've made salsa before with the same kind of jalapeno and found it too mild; I forgot that every pepper can be different.

I first served the tomatillo salsa with burritos filled with brown rice, black beans, and chopped heirloom tomatoes, covered with some cheese and baked in the oven. Because the salsa was so hot, we could only use a little bit at a time. However, we had plenty of leftover beans and rice, so we ate that for lunch a few times with the green salsa mixed in.

While the tomatillo salsa was great, and I would definitely like to experiment more with tomatillos in the future, there was another surprise benefit to this experience. As I went to throw away the waste - tomatillo husks, garlic peels, onion skin, and jalapeno seeds - I suddenly saw a beautiful combination of colors and textures in my hands, and decided a photo shoot detour was necessary before heading to the trash can. Here's a few examples. Now am I crazy, or is this beautiful?

More husk photos here.

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