On a recent Sunday, Bill and I drove to South County Wicklow to visit our veg guy. That’s right, we don’t have a local–that pub where everybody knows your name–but we do have a veg guy.
His name is Duncan Healy, and he’s at the Red Stables Market in St. Anne’s park every Saturday. I’ve mentioned before that the market is part of our favorite Saturday routine, and after a bunch of Saturdays of chatting over chard or tomatoes, Bill and I started referring to Duncan by name and saying things like, oh, if Duncan has some nice kale today I’ll make a kale and white bean stew. Well, Bill would say those things.
And then one day there were tomatillos.
The way I remember it, I was at work on a Saturday, and I received a single-word text from Bill: Tomatillos! I let out a yelp and raised my phone over my head like large-haired Joan Cusack at the end of Working Girl.
While my recollection may be altered by the mists of time, we did indeed find tomatillos in Ireland and we were stoked! If you’re unfamiliar with the tomatillo, it is like a cross between a tomato and a pepper and is in the gooseberry family. Tomatillos are common in Mexican cuisine, frequently used in salsas and sauces.
My favorite use for tomatillos is to toss a few into a blender along with a clove of garlic, a serrano chile (or jalapeno or bird chile), and an avocado. Blend. Then enjoy a bright, perfect marriage of creamy and tangy. It’s great as a dip, or served with Rick Bayless’ potato and pork tacos. (See right.)
Bill likes to roast tomatillos. For a fresh salsa, throw a few tomatillos, a clove of garlic, and chiles into a roasting pan and roast about ten minutes until blackened. Blend these ingredients to a puree, and then add some diced onions and cilantro. The roasting mellows the flavor of the tomatillo and adds tasty charred bits. You can also freeze the puree of roasted tomatillos, garlic and chiles. This base can be added to browned onions to make a salsa verde, which is excellent with pork (see below) or add onions and cilantro for salsa as above.
We were delighted to be invited to visit the Healy farm. Duncan grew up on the farm, and returned a few years ago to work with his father, Denis. The farm operates as Organic Delights, providing produce to restaurants and through stands at many markets including Temple Bar and Dun Laoghaire. We’re really happy that our local market sells so many veggies grown right down the road in Wicklow. What they can’t grow in Ireland, they will import, so the Organic Delights stall is always bursting with selection.
After feeding us homemade pizza, salad and blueberry crumble, Duncan led us and a contingent of kids and other family members around the farm to visit the pigs and see all the baby veggies growing big and strong. We snacked on plums, apples and raspberries as we explored the greenhouses with onions drying, tomatoes blushing to red, and pea tendrils climbing their trellises. We collected a few veggies to bring home, including two round, green squash that when cut open looked like a cross between the seedy pulp of a crookneck squash and the stringy spaghetti squash, and tasted better than that description indicates. In fact, they were lovely stuffed with quinoa, beef mince, onion, tomato, and a couple tomatillos, and topped with cheese.
Thanks to Duncan and Cindy and family for a great day on the farm.