A friend recently asked if I blog everything that comes out of my kitchen. I wish I was that awesome (and efficient!) But, no. I have had some flat out fails. Recipes don’t always turn out quite as envisioned. Or, come out at all. That’s part of the fun and challenge dreaming up new recipes…but part of the shake your fist at the stove frustration as well.
As I was watching one of my favorite movies on Netflix recently – Fried Green Tomatoes – I had a vision. Instead of fried green tomatoes, how about baked green tomatillos?? Brilliant! Or so I thought. I sliced the tomatillos, dipped each slice in a mixture of almond milk whisked with dijon mustard, lightly dusted in cornmeal seasoned with onion and garlic powder, then baked until golden. It didn’t work out. At all.
I learn best by experimenting and exploring, and I learned a lot about tomatillos with my baked green tomatillo fail. The meat of the tomatillo, which reminds me more of eggplant than tomato, became very soft and mushy once baked. I took one bite, and the whole thing fell apart. The flavor just wasn’t there either. Back to the drawing board.
Tomatillos aren’t tomatoes, even though they look like little baby tomatoes. They are a member of the nightshade family, more closely related to the gooseberry than the tomato.
A staple in Mexican cooking, tomatillos grow in papery husks and are often referred to as Husk Tomatoes – although they are not juicy like tomatoes at all. I love tomatillos grilled, which adds a wonderful smoky, charred flavor to anything you add them to, such as salsa verde and soup. (Add a touch of cinnamon and nutmeg to your salsa verde next time, really).
In rethinking my tomatillo experiment, I turned to breakfast. A hot breakfast is the ideal way to start my day, and lately I’ve been obsessing over tofu scrambles. I typically make a big batch that lasts at least two mornings between my husband and I. Creamy, filling, warm, hearty. My kind of breakfast. But this time, with a southwestern twist.
Coarsely chopped extra firm tofu. Sautéed yellow onion and garlic. Red bell pepper. Black beans. Corn. Fresh parsley. And of course, tomatillos. Lots of tomatillos!
The diced tomatillos soften and seemingly melt right into the scramble, adding the kind of flavor you love but can’t quite put your finger on. It’s a tart green freshness, a clean flavor, but with bite. It’s the missing piece needed to give this tofu scramble a southwestern style essence.
I added a handful of dairy-free mozzarella style shreds to add a touch of creaminess to the scramble, without turning gooey. You can add pepper jack cheese instead for a bit of a kick, or add diced jalapeño for a stronger kick. The scramble has plenty of texture from the black beans, corn, and red bell pepper. Plenty for your fork to spear, or your spoon to gather. Sharing optional.
I would love to hear from you. What is your favorite way to cook tomatillos?
- 14oz extra firm tofu, pressed and coarsely chopped
- 6 tomatillos, husks removed, washed, and diced
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
- ½ cup black beans
- ½ cup yellow corn
- ¼ cup dairy-free mozzarella shreds
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh Italian flat leaf parsley
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Rinse the tofu and pat dry. Wrap in a paper towel, then a dish towel, and place on top of a cutting board. Set a cast iron skillet, centered, on top of the tofu (or a few heavy cookbooks). Let sit for 20 minutes. Remove dish towel and paper towel. Coarsely chop with a large knife into bite sized pieces (the pieces don't have to be equal size).
- Remove the husks from the tomatillos and rinse under cold water to remove any sticky residue. Pat dry. Slice off the ends and dice. Set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized skillet over medium-high heat. Add the diced onion and cook until softened and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add the diced red bell pepper and the tomatillos, stirring to combine. Cook for about 3 to 5 minutes until softened.
- Add the tofu and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper and the red pepper flakes. Cook for 5-7 minutes until the tofu is heated through. Break apart any large tofu pieces with your spatula or wooden spoon.
- Fold in the black beans and corn and cook for additional 2-3 minutes.
- Add the dairy-free mozzarella shreds. Let the shreds sit on top of the cooking scramble for about a minute before folding into the scramble. Cook for 2-3 minutes until melted through.
- Divide the scramble onto four plates and garnish with chopped fresh parsley. Season with additional salt and pepper, to taste. Serve immediately.
Disclaimer: Melissa’s graciously provided the tomatillos used in this recipe. Thank you, Melissa’s! No other compensation was provided. All thoughts, opinions, and use of tomatillos are completely my own.