Monday, October 13, 2008

gringo verde

This is my first year growing tomatillos. Being a relative of the tomato, they share many of the same attributes, but in what seems like a wilder form. I forget exactly how many we planted this year, but I think it was only four or so in the "box." Growing three to four feet tall, with an understory of lemon cucumbers, it became the green hedge we have out front. In July, they were a riot of blooms and paper bells, foretelling of a green salsa in my future.

I've been feeling a bit neglectful of my garden lately, and noticing tomatillos beginning to fall of the plants all on their own (I mean, it was mid-September by now) meant time for action. I brought the monkeys out front and we conducted a fruit raid.

Easily filling a gallon sized bowl, we brought the loot back in and took the skins off. I've learned that my elder monkey has a propensity for the tedium, and will gladly work on this task as I tend to the "lil' bruther." After a quick rinse to remove the remaining bits and pieces, and maybe, just maybe a bit of whatever the sticky, strange, not quite entirely oily feeling stuff on them is off, we tossed them in a roasting pan (whew, talk about a run-on!)

I haven't had much luck with growing peppers here in oaktown. I've tried, boy I have, sporadically, for like five years or so. I'm no Chilebrown. (Let me tell you, he's got such a peppery green thumb, that after the simple act of shaking hands with him, you better wash up before touching any sensitive membranes around your eyeballs.) Anyway, this year, once again I gave it a go. I forget which varieties they were, something compact, but mild for sure. Because of all this, I made sure to include the seeds in the salsa to extract any bit of heat they had.

I had a few onions from earlier in the year out in the back shed and I was hoping to use them. I had envisioned an all from the monkey ranch salsa. But no. They had started to rot on the inside after sprouting a bit. Damn. I used a big white onion on the counter and went from there. All mixed up and ready for roasting I had a laugh. I always enjoy the look of all the little green balls in a pan. It reminds me of those ball pits they have at amusement parks where you can "swim." Okay, maybe that comes from having a beer with this one, but, what the hell.

I gave the roasted mess a blend and then went and picked some cilantro to finish it off. After mincing and mixing in we chowed down on some chips. It was super tangy and puckery. Given that it was at least 3/4 tomatillos I wasn't too surprised. I made a mental note about growing these husky tomato relatives here: flavor is good despite small size of fruit. Combine this with the ease of growing them and we have a winner in my book.

I have a feeling, that after seeds get into the soil this year I'll be harvesting volunteers next year. Well, and the next, and so on and so forth. With any luck, all the way into the sweet with heat, chile verde sunset years of life.


cookiecrumb said...

Totally awesome. I was considering growing tomatillos this year, but didn't. I will next year, though. Thanks for the encouragement.
We still have your glass refrigerator dish (minestrone, remember?).
Also, I'm thinking of growing bush beans next year. More minestrone!!

Monkey Wrangler said...

Cookie: Yeah, like coolio huh? I can't wait to see what y'all's do with the heat.

Glassware? Minestrone? Bush beans? Plant cranberry/borlotti type. I'm imagining that they will do just fine considering that Iacopi farms in Half Moon Bay grows them by the ton.

Later tater. Give the Cranksters a pinch for me.

K and S said...

that sounds so easy to grow! and so delicious too! amazing stuff.

Freya said...

We grew (or rather my mother did - I even managed to kill cactus - lots of them) tomatillos in the long, hot summer of the UK...we've frozen them for now but I have this delicious recipe using chicken, cinnamon and tomatillos (obviously), fried up in tortillas. It's swell.

Monkey Wrangler said...

Kat: Try it! Throw a few in your potted plants (the biggest ones) and see what happens.

Freya: Is that really you sweetie? Nice to hear from you. And I would love to know more about the chicken recipe. Is that one you posted about long ago?

K and S said...

will do next spring :)

Chilebrown said...

I resemble that remark. Those tomatillo look very healthy. Try roasting them on the grill. Good stuff!

Zoomie said...

Looks great and I'll bet it tasted great, too! All those super helpers, too - perfect!

Monkey Wrangler said...

Kat: Save yourself the remembering to do it later and put 'em in the pots now and just see what pops up.

Chile: Ooooh yeah, roasted! Last year I did this and it was indeed hella tasty.

Zooms: I couldn't have done it without all their gathering and prep work. I sure love them kiddies. And so far, they're turning out right nice.