Growing your very own Chiles and Tomatillos guarantees a bountiful, fresh supply. Now is a great time to order as I am placing all our seeds on half price. As soon as the soil gets warm and is free from frost--plant chiles and tomatillos. Our certified seeds come up like crazy, yielding several healthy plants per package. To get a jump start--you can start your seeds inside now and they will begin yielding in a month or more.
An interesting point about tomatillos is that once you plant the first planting from seeds--they will continue to come up year after year, if you leave the plants on the ground for a short time after the first frost. The seeds will collect on the ground and come up the next year--after year. I often say it is like planting dandelions--they really thrive.
I really like using tomatillos in all kinds of stews and sauces. And they are so easy to freeze--just peel off the papery little jacket and place the washed and peeled tomatillos in freezer weight bags and label. Then you can use them as you wish all winter. One of my favorite salsas is Salsa Verde, the recipe follows.
With the chiles, thin them to about 1 foot apart. The best growing conditions are sandy, well drained soil and full sun. The less you water, the hotter the chiles will be. Tomatillos are easier to grow as they are not as "picky" about the soil.
One of my favorite uses for jalapenos is in Guacamole--they add just the right spice without the watery texture of parched and peeled green chiles. I am going to give you my favorite Guacamole recipe. One of the most important tips is to only dice the avocados, using two table knives. Never use a blender, food processor or a fork. Try it--the fresh flavor is amazing and the keeping quality greatly enhanced. If any is ever left over, place in a vertical food saver container and pat down on top of the surface, placing some plastic wrap, sealing out any air. Kept this way, Guacamole can keep up to a week and is great on salads, in tacos, on scarmbled eggs and in burritos.
I will be giving you my favorite method for parching and freezing green chiles later, when they are in season.
An old Mexican favorite that is good over almost any meat or tortilla dish. Tomatillos, available in Mexican specialty shops, should always be used. Don’t substitute unripe green tomatoes, because they lack the subtle, sweet taste of the tomatillos.
Yield: About 2 cups
2 cups quartered, fresh tomatillos
2/3 cup chopped onion
1 Tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 jalapeno chile or Serrano chile, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
1. If using fresh tomatillos, remove outer husk. Quarter and place in one inch deep boiling water in a heavy pot. Cover and simmer for 5 to 8 minutes or until color deepens and they are almost fork tender. DO NOT OVERCOOK!
2. Process tomatillos in a blender or food processor until coarsely chopped. Add remaining ingredients; process to combine. Taste and if necessary, adjust seasonings.
Jane's Southwest Recipes and more great ideas for cooking with chiles.
Guacamole at its best! For greatest flavor, appearance and keeping quality – always cut avocados with two knives into coarse chunks about 1/2 inch square.
Yield: 4 servings
2 ripe avocados (preferably Haas)
½ teaspoon salt
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lime juice, or to taste
1 medium-size tomato, chopped
¼ cup finely chopped Spanish onion
1 medium fresh jalapeno, minced
2 Tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1. Halve the avocados; scoop pulp into a bowl. Coarsely chop with two knives. Add salt and garlic; then slowly add lime juice to taste.
2. Fold in tomato, onion, chiles and cilantro. Let stand a few minutes before serving to allow flavors to blend.
3. Taste and adjust seasonings. Some like spicy guacamole, while others like it quite mild. Often piquancy is best determined by the other foods you are serving. If some like it hot and others don’t, a solution is to serve a side dish of spicy salsa or minced jalapeno.
4. Serve guacamole in a Mexican pottery bowl and garnish the top with a few tostados thrust into the top. Serve with a basket of tostados. As a salad, serve over chopped lettuce and garnish each serving with a cherry tomato.
Note: Many myths seem to abound about placing an avocado pit in the guacamole to keep it from discoloring or oxidizing. I don’t find that to work so well. Covering the guacamole well or sprinkling it with a few drops of ascorbic-acid mixture, the mixture used to prevent darkening in freezing fruits works better. Be careful not to add much of the acid, as it can be slightly sweet.
All recipes reprinted with permission from Jane Butel’s publishers.