Tomatillos and Tomatillo Avocado Dip

The tomatillo plant is an annual that is easy to grow and graces the garden with its lacy foliage and lovely lantern-like fruit. The plant grows to about 3' tall and has long, oval leaves of a pleasing green that shows off the yellow blossoms. Grow it in full sun or part shade with well drained soil. Soak well, then leave off watering until the top 1 1/2" is dry before watering again. The fruit is ready to harvest when the paper "lantern" bursts but before the tomatillo turns yellow. You may still be able to use yellow tomatillos but the flavor will probably have changed and some of the sweetness lost. If you are picking out the fruit at the grocery, look for healthy green paper and fruit; avoid shriveled husks or blemished or soft fruit. For cooking, the striped paper covering is peeled off (save this to infuse into the broth for tamale masa to make it flufflier) and the hard, green inside is used. There is no need to peel or seed the tomatillo as one does with its tomato cousins. The history of tomatillo cultivation begins in Pre-Columbian Mexico, then spreads to Europe via Spain. It is a staple in most Latin American countries and a primary ingredient in salsa verde. Thanks to Laurie of Santa Barbara for sending us this recipe which combines the tanginess of the tomatillo, the tartness of lime, the bite of garlic, and the accent of salt to creamy avocado:
Tomatillo Avocado Dip:
1 lb. tomatillos
1 avocado
1/3 cup sour cream
1/2 bunch of fresh cilantro leaves, chopped fine
5 cloves garlic, minced
Juice of 1 lime
1 1/2 medium jalapeño chilies, stemmed, seeded, chopped fine
Salt to taste
Remove the husks of the tomatillos, wash, dry and chop them fine. Place in a mixing bowl with the meat of the avocado. Add the rest of the ingredients with 1/4 tsp. salt and mash together until well mixed. Taste and add more salt or more lime juice to taste. Serve with tortilla chips and the 2008 Keyways Sauvignon Blanc.

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