~ Excerpted from There’s a Newf in my Soup!

The tomatillo fruit is surrounded by an inedible, paper-like husk formed from the calyx. As the fruit matures, it fills the husk and can split it open by harvest. The husk turns brown, and the fruit can be several colors when ripe, including yellow, red, green, or even purple.

Tomatillos are the key ingredient in fresh and cooked Mexican and Central-American green sauces.Fruit should be firm and bright green, as the green color and tart flavor are the main culinary contributions of the fruit. Purple and red-ripening cultivars often have a slight sweetness, unlike the green- and yellow-ripening cultivars, and are therefore somewhat more suitable for fruit-like uses like jams and preserves. Like their close relatives cape gooseberries, tomatillos have a high pectin content.


  • 4 tomatillos, husked, rinsed and blackened
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, blackened
  • 5 dried de arbol chiles, stemmed, with seeds
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seed, toasted and ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano, toasted and ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil


  1. To blacken the tomatillos and Roma tomatoes, place on a baking sheet under the broiler for about 5 minutes, rotating until the skins are charred and blistered on all sides. Cut out and discard the stem and core from the tomatillos and Romas.
  2. In a small pan, toast the cumin seed and oregano over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until fragrant. Grind in a spice grinder.
  3. Place all ingredients, except peanut oil, in a blender and puree until smooth.
  4. In a large, heavy nonstick skillet, heat the peanut oil over high heat until just smoking. Turn the heat down to medium-high and carefully add the sauce. Stir continuously with a wooden spoon for 3 to 5 minutes, until it thickens slightly. The sauce will keep for about 2 months in the refrigerator.

Makes 2 cups.