Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Dyers Eat a New Vegetable!

I'm sure you're all surprised, maybe even slightly shocked (ha ha!), knowing what a vegetable fan I am. Actually, the title is not quite accurate. I am sure we have eaten tomatillos before, likely even on several occasions, but somehow we have never grown them or even purchased them ourselves to use, so tonight was a notable night. :-)

We bought a quart of them from Living Stones Community Farm at Growing Hope's Ypsilanti-Downtown Farmers' Market last week. First my husband and I had to eat one raw, just to try it, so after peeling the dry husk away and giving it a quick wash, I just cut the tomatillo in half, and we each popped one in our mouth.  I tried to have no expectations, just anticipation of something brand new. Even so, I was pleasantly surprised at the slight crunch and the slight sweetness. My husband even thought it tasted slightly like a tangerine.

Then we roasted all those still remaining under the broiler, along with several large cloves of garlic for the following salsa recipe. Our tomatillo salsa recipe is different than others on the internet because (1) we used what we had on hand and (2) my husband is one of those people who strongly dislikes cilantro's taste (it is impossible to "sneak" any at all into a dish without him detecting that distinctive taste).

Recipe:  Garlic Tomatillo Salsa
  • 1 quart fresh tomatillos, husks removed, wash, some were purple but most were green
  • 5 large garlic cloves, separated from their bulbs but still in their peels 
  • 1 large peeled clove of fresh garlic (save to add to the blender raw at the end)
  • 1 small bunch fresh Italian arugula (probably about 1 cup of leaves) - or use cilantro if your family enjoys this herb
  • 1/2 cup water, or as needed (none was needed)
  • salt and pepper to taste (didn't add any)
  • ~ 1 Tbsp. lime juice
  1. Preheat the oven's broiler. Arrange the whole cloves of garlic (except for the one being held back to add raw at the end) and tomatillos on a baking sheet. Place under the broiler, and cook for a few minutes. Remove garlic cloves first, as soon as they are toasted, to avoid developing a bitter flavor, peel as soon as they are cool enough to do so. 
  2. Continue to roast tomatillos until evenly charred, turning occasionally. Set aside to cool. Don't remove the charred parts of the tomatillos or the peppers. They add a really nice flavor.
  3. Place tomatillos and any juice from the roasted tomatillos now on the tray used for roasting in a blender or food processor with the roasted and fresh garlic plus arugula. Add a little water to the mixture only if necessary to facilitate blending. Season with lime juice, salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until serving. 
I may have over-processed this green salsa as it was not chunky but even so, my husband and I found we could not stop ourselves from sampling and sampling and sampling while our quesadillas heated up (frozen after a previous meal so we always have our own delicious fast food!).  
This recipe easily made 3-4 cups of salsa. I am not sure how much we actually ate prior to our supper or during our supper. It was great with our quesadillas.  It will be fun to see how we use the remaining salsa. I suppose we could even still add a spicy pepper!
My husband immediately felt that this salsa tasted "Caribbean", perhaps because of the lime paired with the slight sweetness of the tomatillos. He is also searching his food memory (which is amazing!) to try to remember everything we had to eat on our two trips to Cozumel many years ago in order to recall if we had something that combined these flavors. 
Have you eaten any new and completely different foods this summer? I'd love to hear about it and even try your recipes.  If you don't grow all your own produce, I hope you'll find your local Farmers' Markets to support your local farmers and food artisans. Since there are so many new markets each and every year, I highly recommend that you check out your city or neighborhood's possibilities at the website for RealTime Farms. 
Enjoy the tastes of the end of summer's beautiful vegetable bounty. There is nothing else like it! And it will be a full year before it all comes around again. :-)

PS - Morning Addendum! I added ~2 Tbsp. of this tomatillo salsa to 5 hard-boiled eggs, smashed to make egg salad (that's it) and spread it on bread for today's sandwiches at the farm. Oh wow! I was licking the bowl with my fingers - this easy combination is beyond delicious. I have used my favorite bread (Zingerman's black olive bread), reserved for special treats because it is so expensive, so I suspect it will be worth a double-wow after our simple farm lunch of sandwiches, carrots, dried fruit, and iced tea. After finishing our current big project of getting proper drainage finally installed around the house, we have to finally buy a refrigerator! Cleaning garlic and moving gravel - all in the day's work as we get this farm up and running and the house finally ready to move into (without any water in the basement!). :-)
"Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row" 
Diana Dyer, MS, RD 


Jen said...

One word, Diana - YUM! BTW... loving, loving, loving the Russian garlic (forgot the rest of the name).

Ellen said...

Just put together your gazpacho soup recipe - am looking forward to tomorrow's lunch already!

Diana Dyer said...

Glad you are enjoying our garlic. Maybe you purchased a head of Romanian Red, which is scrumptious and almost gone!

Glad to hear you'll be enjoying the Gazpacho soup. This is the time of year to make it from all fresh and local ingredients!


Uncharted Journey said...

hi Diana, I grew 10 garlics this year - planted them last Fall, inspired by you. My bulbs are delicious but quite small compared to commercial garlic. any comments?


Diana Dyer said...

Small does not mean small taste, but I am wondering if you planted stiff-neck variety and let the scape or stem grow. If that is the case, the bulbs will be small because the plant's energy went into trying to form a flower instead of the bulb. Or they just needed a year to adapt to your location. Try replanting the biggest cloves from the bulbs you harvested as big cloves grow big heads. Enjoy your harvest!

Kateri said...

I grew a small very sweet yellow tomatillo in my Ann Arbor garden (actually I planted it one year, then for the next 5 years it reseeded itself and I just left a few of the volunteers.) I will have to find the seeds for that again...