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Mission: To try new foods this summer. Healthy foods. (Not taste-testing all 25 Sonic shakes, like the editor at Thrillist.)

This Week’s Food: Tomatillos (aka “husk tomatoes”)

Because … they’re a Mexican staple, but I’d never bought them at the grocery. I wasn’t sure how to prep them – a green tomato with a husk? – and I had no idea what to make with them. Then, over the weekend, I was flipping through the “summer” section of Terry Walters’ book,  “Clean Food,” and landed on her recipe for Black Bean Salad, which features sliced tomatillos, along with black beans, red bell pepper, corn and jalapeños tossed with cilantro, lime juice, cumin and olive oil.

Doesn’t that sound delicious? That sounds like summer.

I was in. 

Daderot / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

Tomatillos! (Daderot / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)

Where to Find Tomatillos: Most groceries either place them near the hot peppers (another Mexican staple) or the tomatoes. The husks could be green or brown – their color doesn’t really matter – but you want the fruit to be bright green and firm.

How to Prep the Them: Just peel off the husks, rinse the sticky coating off the fruit, and pat them dry. For this salad, you’ll be slicing the raw tomatillos. I thought they’d be like red tomatoes inside, but they’re much firmer and meatier, more like a cucumber.

The Taste: Tomatillos are surprisingly bright and tart – almost citrusy – so they really work in this salad. With the earthiness of the black beans and the sweetness of the corn and peppers, you need that tart jolt from the tomatillos and lime juice to keep things interesting and avoid the dreaded Mouth Boredom.

What You Can to Do with These Leftovers: Round One of this salad made a fantastic lunch, but if you need some variety for Round Two, try serving it as a side with whatever you’ve got on the grill. Add some avocado, and use it to fill burritos. Brown some tortillas in a cast-iron skillet, add a few spoonfuls of the salad , and top it with grilled (or rotisserie) chicken for some quick tostadas. Or, just grab some tortilla chips, and scoop it up.

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Black Bean Salad

From Terry Walters’ “Clean Food, Revised Edition: A Seasonal Guide to Eating Close to the Source”

Serves 8 (serving=3/4 cup)

  • 4 cups cooked black beans
  • 4 tomatillos, husked and sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups corn, fresh or frozen
  • 2 jalapeños, seeded and minced
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in large bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside, or refrigerate and let the flavors blend. Serve cold or at room temperature. 

Note: You can store this salad in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Nutritional Information (Per Serving) – calories: 183, fat: 4.6g, carbs: 29g, fiber: 9g, protein: 9g, PP+ = 4