October marks the start of the farmers market season in Florida. What is in season is the southern part of Florida is quite a bit different than what you might find available in other parts of the country. You can find fresh produce of almost all varieties from sweet corn to potatoes to kale and collards. Then there is the fresh seafood vendors and the bakers specializing in Italian breads and pastries. There is truly something for everyone.
Last weekend was the first weekend of the Bradenton farmers market that I feel blessed to be able to walk just a short 2 blocks to! My bountiful basket of goodies included a prized loaf of the fresh baked Italian bread, sweet corn, asparagus, tomatillos and a couple of huge Florida avocados to name a few. We had fresh vegetables with every meal for most of the weekend and into the week.
Total cost for a basket full of bounty? $25!
Farmers markets are a great way to stretch your produce budget in additional purchasing fresh from local vendors. Sweet corn 3 for $1, a bag of potatoes $1, Florida avocados for $1 each....
As I walked by the avocados, I knew I had to have them. Love guacamole and it is one of my all time favorite snacks. The thought of making guacamole lead to my next must have purchase. Tomatillos! Salsa verde and guacamole: a match made in heaven.
If you are not familiar with the tomatillo, let me take a few minutes to introduce you to this interesting but often over looked fruit.
They are a fruit that is covered with an greenish brown husk (pictured in the lower left in the picture above) that was formed from the calyx. As the fruit grow, it fills out its husk and often splits it open in time for harvest. The fruit is an essential ingredient in many Latin American cuisine, but especially their green sauces.
You should look for tomatillos that are firm and have a bright green color. You may notice that the skin is slightly sticky which is gives a subtle clue of their high pectin content. Most of the sappy sticky coating in on the inside of the husk but some is usually transferred to the skin of the fruit as well.
The fruit adds a tart flavor to dishes as well as providing a green coloring. Although the fruit is often used fresh to add tartness, it is also frequently roasted to add a complex roasted sweet tart flavor to dishes.
Roasted tomatillo salsa is one of my favorite uses and it can not be more simple to make. Here's what you do:
Remove the husk from the tomatillos and discard. Gently wash the fruit to remove any dirt that has stuck to the skin. Quarter the fruit.
On a cookie sheet lined with tin foil and sprayed with nonstick cooking spray or lightly oiled, place the tomatillos skin side up. Drizzle with roasted garlic grapeseed oil from Wildtree.
Roast in the upper third of your oven with your oven on low broil for about 30 minutes or until the fruit is softened and the skin is charred. Turn the tomatillos once or twice to ensure the skins roast evenly.
Pull from the oven and let cool slightly.
In a large measuring beaker than you can use with your immersion blender add 1/4 cup of Wildtree Fiesta Salsa mix and then carefully pour the tomatillos and all their juices into the beaker. Blend with your immersion blender for a minute or two or until the tomatillos are pureed and the salsa mix is incorporated.
Refrigerate for 2 hours before serving or overnight to allow flavors to meld together.
That's it! Now you have a flavorful salsa that you can serve with chips, top your fajitas or tacos with or even serve over the top of grilled chicken or steak.
I hope you enjoyed the trip to the Bradenton farmers' market and are inspired to make your own tomatillos salsa at home.