Don’t ever ask me questions about gardening. I can honestly say that the only thing I’ve ever successfully grown is mold. In fact, I clearly recall how poorly I was doing in a 7th grade biology class (we were particularly heavy on the terrarium projects that year) until we did a segment on spores. My petri dish actually popped its lid, overflowing with mold.
But if there’s one thing I know about gardening is that tomatillos are an invasive weed. The first year living in our house, our vegetable garden was overflowing with them, thanks to the previous owners who had planted a couple of tomatillo plants. I didn’t totally mind this little gift until the following summer when they stubbornly persisted despite John’s best efforts to root out all of the previous year’s plantings in order to start a vegetable garden from scratch. That kind of tenacity frightens me a bit.
So I was surprised to see that tomatillos are a regular crop in our CSA. I wonder how the farm manages to plant them without risking the other crops? Indeed, they must grow in abundance as I’m pretty sure that we’ve had tomatillos in the basket for about 6 weeks now. Each time, they are dutifully accompanied by cilantro and jalapenos, making me feel a sour rut that all that can be done with these vegetables is salsa verde. So fair warning: over the next few weeks, there will be many posts as I try to figure out different uses for salsa verde and challenge myself to use tomatillos in a non-salsafied way.
First up on our tomatillo tour: enchiladas. This is the best way I can think of to use up an entire batch of salsa verde, necessary when you know another 1.5 lbs of tomatillos are headed your way in a week. I decided to make a batch for my stitch n’ bitch crew, formed during my 1L year as a means to both study and make sure law school didn’t suck out our creative souls.
I wanted to make something that could appeal to both the carnivores and the vegans in our group, so I decided to make the filling using bell peppers and onions, and I made 3/4 of the pan with cheese and 1/4 with soy cheese. Let me just say this: as a former vegetarian, I have nothing against soy products and frequently defend the joys of tofu to friends. But if I can avoid it, I will never work with this brand of soy cheese again. It tasted fine, but contrary to this brand’s slogan, it does not melt. Plus, it didn’t grate up so much as it pushed little tubes through the grater holes, reminiscent of a play dough fun factory. Fine for play, weird for food.
So there are no finalized pictures of the end result, something that disappointed me given that I carefully chose to use bright colors of bell peppers with the intent that the contrasting colors with the light, lime green of the salsa would make for a very pretty and cheery plate. The tubes o’ soy retained their shape and just sort of turned an odd brown. Not very appetizing in look if you ask me, but if you could get past that, the taste was actually pretty good. The peppers were lightly spiced with cumin and had a crisp zing from the lime zest. The salsa added a slight but not overpowering heat, although if I was making this batch for John and me, I would have upped the jalapeno a bit more.
- 3 bell peppers: red, yellow, and orange, diced
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
- zest of 1 lime
- 1.5 tbsp cumin
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- salt and pepper to taste
- 8 0z of Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
- Soy cheese, mozzarella flavored, “shredded” or rather “tubed.”
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- 16 small corn tortillas (no lard for the vegans)
- 1 lb tomatillos, peeled and rinsed of gooey stickiness
- 1 jalapeno, halved (seeded if you’re a wuss)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 medium onion, quartered
- juice of 1-2 limes
- 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro
- 2 tsp cumin
- splash white vinegar
- 1 tsp sugar
- salt and pepper to taste
In a medium sauce pan, toss in your tomatillos, onion, jalapeno, and garlic cloves. Cover with cold water and add a splash of white vinegar. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 10 minutes. Drain and add the contents to a food processor or blender with the sugar, cumin, cilantro, and lime juice. (I used one lime, but if you want your salsa either runnier or more sour, add more lime juice to taste.) Blitz that baby until smooth, season with salt and pepper, and set aside.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Saute the onion until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the peppers and garlic and continue to cook for another 5 minutes. Add cumin, lime zest, oregano and salt and pepper to taste. Heat a stack of 4 tortillas in your microwave for about a minute to soften them. Take a tortilla and ladle about 1/4 cup of pepper filling and sprinkle with about 1 tbsp of cheese (or soy cheese). Roll it up like a cigar. Place it unsealed side down in a large baking pan. Continue to heat tortillas, fill, and roll until you fill the pan. Pour the salsa verde over all the enchiladas and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake for 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and slightly browned.
CSA Count: 5
Tomatillos, cilantro, onion, fresh garlic, jalapeno