Eat Well: Tomatillo Mama

The following post was written by my mom, WWW. Thanks, mom!
My summer vegetable garden is in full swing and we are loving it. I've battled nematodes in the past, so when my mom gave me some grafted tomato varieties that are supposed to give bigger yields and be nematode resistant, I was excited to try them. Three months later, my tomato plants are unbelievable—6-7 feet tall, hearty (no nematode die-off), and covered with gigantic heirloom tomatoes. I have never seen healthier or more prolific tomato plants. 
My mom bought my tomato plants at Tomato Mania held each March at San Diego Botanic Gardens, but if you are interested in planting grafted tomatoes next year, look on the Mighty ‘Mato website to find where to purchase them in your area. They are more expensive than traditional tomato plants, but if you struggle with tomato yields due to nematodes or other pests, these tomatoes are well worth the price. And, you don’t need to plant many plants as they produce 2-3 times the number of tomatoes as traditional heirloom tomatoes.  The one thing they need, however, is space…lots of it.  And EXTRA LARGE cages. 

I also planted tomatillos for the first time this year, unfortunately, in the same bed with two of my Mighty ‘Matos.  Since I am a tomatillo novice, I didn’t realize they need cages, too, and they become HUGE.  So—I have tomato and tomatillo plants entwined, spilling out of my box, and traveling across the gravel around my garden.  It’s quite a sight, really, but one that makes me very happy. 
Tomatillos, or husk tomatoes, are about the easiest plants you could grow. They give you a huge yield, so if you like green salsa, you will have plenty for your summer needs by planting two plants (at least TWO are necessary for proper pollination).  Kids love to watch them grow because after pollination, the flowers form adorable paper-like lanterns.  The tomatillo fruit grows inside the lantern, or husk, until it bursts through, at which time it is ready to pick.
Here's my recipe for tomatillo salsa. You can use it for enchiladas, as a table salsa, or on huevos rancheros (warm tortillas topped with fried eggs and salsa). 

Another way to use tomatillos in the kitchen is to make this fabulous and hearty vegan pozole (Mexican soup).  I have modified it from the original recipe (Hominy and Tomatillo Stew with Pumpkin Seeds) found in The Vegan Gourmet by SusannGeiskopf-Hadler.

Vegan Pazole
1 ½ lbs tomatillos, husks removed
½ cup pepitas (raw, hulled pumpkin seeds)
1 firmly packed cup chopped sorrel leaves (no stems) or arugula (or half and half)
3 ½ cups water
3 ½ teaspoons Better Than Bouillion vegetable base
2 serrano chiles, seeded and coarsely chopped (or 1 mild Anaheim chile, depending on how hot you like it)
3 cloves garlic
2 T olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cups white hominy (1 28 oz can, drained)

Chopped onion (not red or green)
Chopped fresh tomatoes
Diced avocado
Minced fresh cilantro leaves
Lime wedges
In small saucepan, place tomatillos and 1 cup water.  Bring to a boil and cook over medium heat, covered, for about 10 minutes. Don’t drain. Meanwhile, toast pepitas in a dry pan on medium high until they turn brown and start to pop, stirring occasionally (about 5 minutes).
Cool. Grind in a food processor or with a mortar and pestle to a fine meal consistency.
Place tomatillos in blender with chopped sorrel or arugula leaves, 1 cup water, garlic, peppers, and boullion base, and blend thoroughly.  
Cook the puree for 5 minutes on medium heat, uncovered. 
Add the ground pepitas and cook another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
Meanwhile, sauté onion in olive oil until soft. To the soup, add the onion, the rest of the water, and the hominy.
(You might need more or less water. The soup should be thick but not too thick.)  Cook 15 more minutes.  Serve with toppings and a squeeze of lime on top.