Tomatillo, or “little tomato” in Spanish, is only related to the tomato by being in the nightshade family of flowering plants, but tomatillos are more closely related to ground-berries and Cape gooseberries. With that in mind, tomatillos like Cape gooseberries and Chinese lantern berries, have a paper-like husk which the berry grows into. The husk is easily removed and the fruit should then be washed to remove the slightly sticky sap coating. The great thing about tomatillos is that they are available year-round but their peak season runs from May through October.
Tomatillos range in color and flavor, from the still-ripening reds and purples which are sweeter and are often used like fruits in desserts, jams and preserves to the ripened green, and often yellow, tomatillos, which lose a little sweetness and become tart, tangy and even a bit sour. Like tomatoes, they can be eaten raw or cooked. Tomatillos are a staple of Mexican cuisine, and are often featured in green salsas and chile verde, but tomatillos can be steamed, broiled, roasted, sautéed, stewed, and grilled.
For this recipe of Grilled Tomatillo Guacamole, you will take a very simple and classic dish of guacamole and combine it with the sweet-tartness of smoky, grilled tomatillos. Ideally, this dish would be assembled in the time leading up to grilling, because then the grill would be hot and ready, and the actually assembly is easy and happens quite fast. Remember to lightly, but fully, coat your grilled items with cooking oil so that they do not burn. The serrano peppers, also a staple in Mexican cuisine, can be seeded for less heat, but the fat of the avocados can usually cut the burn. You can take it a step further and grill every ingredient for your guacamole.
Keep in mind that when you pulse the tomatillos in the food processor, you should leave them chunky or you might end up with salsa instead, which is fine and would still taste great, but a meatier guacamole is always a crowd-pleaser.
Grilled Tomatillo Guacamole
Serves 4-6 (but you will not want to share!)
1 pound tomatillos
2 serrano peppers
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
2 large avocados, halved and pitted
¼ cup chopped cilantro
1 large garlic clove
2 ounces fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons kosher salt
½ cup chopped red onion
Preheat your grill. Wash and pat dry the tomatillos and serrano peppers. Then rub them with the vegetable oil, making sure to fully coat them.
Once your grill is hot, grill your tomatillos and serrano peppers until charred on both sides, about 5-8 minutes.
While the grill is still on, place the avocados on the grill, gently pressing the flesh to the grill. Allow to grill for about 5 minutes, longer if you want the nice grill marks.
Combine the tomatillos, serrano peppers (stem removed), cilantro, garlic clove, lime juice, pepper and salt in a food processor. Pulse the mixture until just combined, making sure to leave chunks.
Scoop out the avocado flesh into a bowl big enough to hold your guacamole. Using fork, mash the avocados to your preferred guacamole consistency.
Combine the grilled tomatillo mixture with the avocados, mixing until just combined. Garnish with chopped red onions and serve with crispy tortilla chips.