Tomatillos are the odd-looking distant cousins of the beloved tomato. Tomatillos originated in Mexico, and are a staple of that country’s cusine.  The tomatillo fruit is surrounded by an inedible, paper-like husk. As the fruit matures, it fills the husk and splits it. Tomatillos are the key ingredient in fresh and cooked Latin American green sauces. Pick fruit when it is firm and bright green, as the green color and tart flavor are the main culinary contributions of the fruit.

When you are planting your tomatillos, you will need at least 2 plants in order to get any fruit. They are self-infertile and must have another plant close by to pollinate. Three or four plants is better to insure pollination.  Isolated tomatillo plants rarely set fruit. Ripe tomatillos will keep in the refrigerator for about two weeks. 

Tomatillos like the heat and have a fairly long growing season. Tomatillos grow well in soil or can do well in pots, usually around 5-gallons in size for each plant.  Tomatillos don’t like dry soil and you may have to water them every other day or more often in dry weather.



Tomatillo Chicken Enchiladas

2 tsp canola or vegetable oil
1 med onion, chopped fine (about 1 cup)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb tomatillos, husks and stems removed – quartered
3 jalapeno chilies, seeded and chopped coarsely
1 tsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp canola or vegetable oil
1 med onion, chopped
1 tbsp cumin
1 lb boneless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat and cut into 1/4 in strips
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
8 oz Oxajaca or Monterrey Jack cheese (Oxajaca is a Mexican cheese similar to mozzarella)

10 corn tortillas
cooking spray
3 oz Oxjaca or Monterrey Jack cheese


FOR THE SAUCE: Heat oil in medium saucepan over med-high heat until shimmering, about 2 minutes. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, tomatillos, jalapenos, sugar, and salt. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add 1/3 cup water and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 8 minutes. Transfer to blender and puree until smooth.

FOR THE FILLING: Heat oil in medium saucepan about 2 minutes (until shimmering). Add onion and cook until softened and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add cumin and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add chicken and cook, stirring frequently, until chicken is cooked through – about 6 minutes. Transfer chicken to plate and cool in freezer about 10 minutes. Combine cooled chicken, cilantro, and cheese in medium bowl.

TO ASSEMBLE: Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Spray both sides of tortillas with cooking spray and place on baking sheets. Heat in oven about 4 minutes, until pliable. Meanwile, spread 3/4 cup of sauce in bottom of 13×9 pan. Fill warm tortillas with 1/3 cup filling, roll tightly, and place, seam side down, in sauced pan. Pour remaining sauce over enchiladas (spreading with back of a spoon) and sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Bake enchiladas around 20-30 minutes until heated through and cheese is melted.