So I had a modest crop of tomatillos in my hothouse and decided to cook a dessert. This tomatillo tart was surprisingly tasty and easy to cook. I think you will enjoy it too! Of course the most difficult part was growing the tomatillos.
I purchased the seeds for these amazing plants from the family-run Southern Harvest Seeds based in the foothills of Mount Wellington in Southern Tasmania. Although their web page states the heirloom variety, Tomatillo ‘De Milpa’ (Physalis ixocarpa) is the best tasting, I didn’t buy them because the seed was sold out. (I note that over six months later these seeds are still unavailable). I purchased a packet of Tomatillo ‘Verde Puebla’ (Physalis ixocarpa). According to the web site the fruit has a tangy lemon flavour and I would also add that the fruits are wonderfully crunchy!
I planted the seeds at the beginning of September, then grew the young seedlings in my hothouse. Initially I staked the plants, but the plants soon started to spread. So next time I won’t use the stakes. My plants looked very healthy at first. Then they were attacked by aphids and after I removed the aphids, the leaves started yellowing. You can see the leaf damage in the photo.
Despite the plants looking sickly, they flowered profusely and there was a good rate of fruiting. I grew six plants and the bees did great work at pollination! The fruit became plump, some husks split and some fruit fell to the ground. In the end I picked a few kilos of fruit!
Cooking the Tomatillo Tart
This recipe was adapted from Margarita’s Tartela de Tomatillo recipe.
You will notice when you remove the husks that the tomatillos are sticky. Apparently this stick layer tastes bitter, so you will need to wash the fruit in warm water before you eat them.
Ingredients for tomatillo tart
- Baked biscuit pastry – see my gooseberry tart recipe
- 1/3 Cup tapioca flour
- 1/3 Cup water
- 500 g Tomatillos (husked, washed and cut in pieces)
- 1 Cup caster sugar (this is very sweet – you may like to use less sugar)
- 2 Teaspoons of fresh orange zest
- Up to 1 cup of toasted pecan nuts
I couldn’t buy tapioca flour in the small supermarket nearby, so I used some tapioca seed I had had on my pantry shelf for years. (The flour would have made a much better texture!)
Tapioca starch is extracted from Cassava roots. This starch is used widely in Asian cuisine as a gluten-free thickener for sauces and gravies. I have now discovered that one of the Woolworths stores in Launceston stocks it. Next time I am in Launceston!
Method for cooking tomatillo tart
You can use a saucepan to mix the cut fruit, sugar and orange zest together and a non-stick fry pan to toast the pecan nuts. Mix the tapioca and water together in a small bowl.
Using gentle heat, start cooking the fruit mix in the saucepan. The sugar will dissolve. When the mix looks watery, you can mix in the hydrated tapioca. You must keep stirring, till you see the starch turn clear. The mixture will become like a jelly! This is when you add in the toasted pecans.
Put it together: Pour the slightly thickened and cooled fruit mixture into the cooled tart shell. Then place the tart in the fridge. The tart should set after a few hours.
Serve the tart with some yummy thick custard or thickened cream (or both)!
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