What is a tomatillo? And is there anything I can substitute?

Smoked Tomato-and-Tomatillo Salsaenlarge
Photo: Randy Mayor

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If you have a cooking question, our expert, Marge Perry, can answer it. Marge teaches home cooks in her classes at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City. She is an award-winning food writer, longtime contributor for Cooking Light and a number of other leading food magazines, author of the blog A Sweet and Savory Life, columnist for Newsday, and has contributed to over 20 cookbooks.

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Sometimes called Mexican green tomatoes, the tomatillo looks like a small green tomato with a papery covering or husk. It is in the same family as a tomato, but tomatillas have a distinctive tart flavor. For a tomatillo substitute, buy underripe tomatoes and add a squeeze of lime juice.

You can buy tomatillos in Latin-American markets year round as well as in many specialty stores and some supermarkets. The papery covering is removed before cooking.

Recipe: Smoked Tomato-and-Tomatillo Salsa

Marge Perry
Mar, 2011
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