Sunday, October 2, 2011

Cooking through my CSA: Tomatillos

My latest CSA loot.
The best thing about participating in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) is also one of the most challenging and that is figuring out how to make a great dish using produce you aren’t very familiar with, and some cases have never even heard of! 

Now, living in southern California I had heard of and seen tomatillos prior to opening my latest CSA box.  The weekly farmer’s market that my work runs has a fantastic Mexican food vendor who sells the most amazing spicy tomatillo salsa.  However, until receiving these firm green tomato look-alikes in my box, I dismissed the idea of buying and cooking with them myself.  The husks threw me off and made me think that the little boogers would be too tedious.  Wrong!  Removing a tomatillo husk is by far and away easier and less messy than removing fresh corn husks. 

Because the farm with which I participate puts out a weekly newsletter letting its subscribers know in advance what they can plan to see in their weekly or biweekly box, I knew the tomatillos were a comin’.  So, I consulted my pal, Google, for tomatillo cooking ideas. 

Being a lover of Enchiladas Verdes (said in my most overly annunciated and dramatic pseudo Hispanic accent) I decided to roast the tomatillos and blend them up into a green sauce for enchiladas.  You can adjust the heat level by playing with the peppers you use in this.  I wanted something more mild since this was to be used for the enchiladas.  If I were making this as a salsa I would have used jalapenos, habaneros or some Caribbean Red peppers.  I enjoy my salsa muy caliente!

Blended Tomatillo Salsa/Sauce
1 pound fresh tomatillos, husks removed
1 onion, skinned and quartered
2 medium to mild peppers (I used pardon peppers but Anaheim would be great too)
3 cloves garlic, peeled
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro intact
Juice of one lime
2 Tbsp olive or canola oil
Salt to taste
Water to blend, if necessary

Oven, set to broil
Roasting pan or baking sheet
Food processor or blender

  1. Place the husked tomatillos, onion quarters and garlic cloves on an oiled baking sheet and broil in the oven for 10 minutes.  Flip and broil another 10-15 minutes until tomatillos are charred, soft and starting to ooze. 
  2. Remove from oven and let cool enough to handle.
  3. Remove the seeds from the broiled tomatillos and discard.  Place charred, seeded tomatillos in your food processor or blender with the garlic and onion.  Blend.
  4. Add cilantro, lime juice and as much water as you need to get the consistency you want.  If you plan to use this as a salsa, go easy on the blending.  If using as a sauce to top enchiladas like I did, blend away adding a few tablespoons of water to get that saucy consistency.  Set aside.
Now onto the enchiladas…
These are highly customizable based on your tastes and what you have on hand.  I used a combo of potatoes, beans, sautéed peppers and onions, tomatoes and cheddar daiya.  I think it would be great fun to use a homemade block cheese (many recipes in The Ultimate UnCheese Cookbook!) or a cashew/nutritional yeast based cheesy sauce for the filling and/or topping. 

Enchiladas Verrrrdes
About ten 8-inch tortillas (I used flour which are not so authentic for enchiladas but very easy to handle)
1 can beans (I used pinto but black, refried or red beans would also be tasty)
1 large russet potato, cubed and boiled
1-2 bell peppers, sliced
1 small onion, sliced
2-3 average size fresh tomatoes (if tomatoes are out of season, skip them.  They aren’t essential)
Vegan cheese of some sort, divided in half

Oven set to 325°
Large glass baking dish (go go gadget Pyrex!)
Medium to large mixing bowl

  1. Boil your cubed potatoes until just fork tender.  Set aside in a medium to large mixing bowl
  2. Sauté the bell peppers and onion in 1 Tbsp canola oil until softened, season with salt and pepper and mix with potatoes, chopped tomatoes (if using) and ½ of the vegan cheese.  Now is a good time to preheat your oven to 325°.
  3. Mix the filling (potatoes, sauteed peppers and onions, tomatoes, and 1/2 the cheese) together to combine.
  4. Assemble the enchiladas.  Spray a large glass baking dish with cooking spray or coat with oil.  Pour 1/3 of the tomatillo sauce on the bottom of the baking dish.  Place filling into each tortilla (don’t overstuff!) and roll setting each tortilla seam side down in the dish.  Repeat until your dish is full of rolled enchiladas.  You should have about 10.
  5. Pour the remainder of the tomatillo sauce on top of the enchiladas and top with the remaining cheese. 
  6. Cover with foil and bake at 325° for 20-25 minutes.  Remove foil and let bake uncovered for another 10-15 minutes, depending on how saucy your enchiladas are.  The enchiladas are done when the cheese is melted (or bubbly if using a cheese sauce) and the sauce has baked into the tortillas.  
  7. Devour.


    1. I wish I had these in my oven right now! I agree, it's both a challenge and great fun to use a new farm box ingredient.

    2. I can't decide what's more amazing: that haul or those enchiladas!

    3. Wow your stuff from the CSA looks divine! And tomatillo salsa is my favorite! I'm going to try roasting mine next time I make it, thanks! ^_^

    4. Holy crap, that looks like an awesome dinner! I want to dive into your CSA haul photo too.

    5. Omg. I am so amazingly envious of a CSA which brings you Tomatillos!!!

    6. encheeeeeladas!
      this made me really hungry. it's almost midnight here, so maybe i should try to catch up on mofo a little earlier?

      nice job with the tomatillos!

    7. Wow, I really want to eat that!! I wish we could get tomatillos here.

    8. I'm reading about small farms all over the US and it seems like CA has really got it all for fresh produce all the time! and your CSA DEF represents that. Do you know the farm yrs comes from?
      LOVE that you got onion sprouts!!

    9. I wish tomatillos were available here! Those enchiladas sounds great.

    10. @foodfeud: My CSA comes from Suzie's Farm in the south bay of San Diego ( I haven't been disappointed yet! I love the onion sprouts too! They have so much flavor.