Is a tomatillo a tomato or a pepper?

Answered by Willian Lymon

A tomatillo is neither a tomato nor a pepper. Although it is often referred to as a husk tomato, it is actually more closely related to the nightshade family, which includes plants like potatoes, eggplants, and peppers. It is important to note that while tomatillos may resemble green tomatoes, they have distinct differences in taste, texture, and culinary uses.

Tomatillos have a tart, citrusy flavor that adds a unique tanginess to dishes. They are commonly used in Mexican cuisine, where they are a key ingredient in salsa verde, a green salsa made with tomatillos, chili peppers, onions, and cilantro. The tartness of tomatillos balances well with the heat of the peppers and the freshness of the other ingredients, creating a delicious and vibrant sauce.

In terms of appearance, tomatillos are similar to small, round, unripe green tomatoes. However, they are encased in a dry, papery husk that resembles corn husks. This husk serves as a protective layer for the fruit and helps to keep it fresh. When purchasing tomatillos, it is important to choose ones with intact husks that are bright green and tightly wrapped.

Preparing tomatillos for cooking involves removing the husks and rinsing them thoroughly to remove any residue. The tomatillos can then be used in a variety of dishes, such as soups, stews, enchiladas, and salads. They can be cooked down to create a sauce or pureed for a smooth texture. Tomatillos can also be roasted or charred to add a smoky flavor to dishes.

In terms of nutrition, tomatillos are low in calories and fat and provide a good source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They are particularly high in vitamin C, which is known for its immune-boosting properties. Additionally, tomatillos contain antioxidants that help protect the body against harmful free radicals.

While tomatillos may resemble green tomatoes, they are not the same. Tomatillos are a unique fruit that belongs to the nightshade family and is commonly used in Mexican cuisine. Their tart flavor and versatility make them a popular ingredient in various dishes. So, next time you come across tomatillos at the grocery store, give them a try and explore the vibrant flavors they can bring to your cooking.