Judging by the number of views the hot tomatillo chutney recipe from last year gets these days, there are currently many gardeners somewhat struggling with the tomatillo harvest. Tomatillo falls in the same category as zucchini: vegetables that are so productive that mere 2 plants can cause a glut. And, frankly, there are not a whole of a lot of recipes for using tomatillos. How much salsa can you consume before you start regretting ever having planted tomatillos in your garden?
This year I have planted 3 tomatillos in a corner of our new garden. Because we knew that we’d be busy making new beds and improving the soil, I covered about half the area between our young fruit trees with cardboard to make it maintenance-free and to smother any weeds that would grow there. Through holes in the cardboard we planted vegetables can be spaced widely, such as zucchini, winter squash and tomatillos, to minimize the amount of holes we’d be making (through which weeds can grow). The tomatillos grew well, as they almost always do, no matter how little you loving care they get, and now the fruits are ripening. Lots of them.
Besides salsa, I like to add tomatillos to different mixed-vegetable dishes, such as curries. But the best loved recipe so far was this pizza, combining the Mexican flavours of tomatillo, cilantro and lime in a the familiar round and flat Italian format. The lemon-like flavour of tomatillos and the herby green sauce make the pizza taste bright and fresh, something not often achieved in what is essentially bread with toppings!
This time, because I did not think of dinner 24 hours in advance, I did not use the fabulous no-knead pizza dough. This dough here needs far less time to rise and is very good, though admittedly, a little is lost if the rising process is speeded up. I like to use part whole wheat flour and add a little fine cornmeal for a little more flavour, though just all-purpose flour can also be used.
Tomatillo pizza with cilantro pesto
makes two 24 cm (10 inch) pizzas or one 36 cm (15 inch) pizza
Inspired by Fields of Greens: New Vegetarian Recipes From The Celebrated Greens Restaurant
170 g (1 1/4 cup) all-purpose flour
60 g (½ cup) whole wheat flour
2 tbsp fine cornmeal
1 tsp salt
150 ml tepid water
1 tsp dry yeast
60 ml (¼ cup) olive oil
125 ml (½ cup) basic tomato sauce, homemade or store-bought
6 to 7 tomatillos, husks removed and quartered
150 g (about 1 1/2 cups) grated cheddar cheese
20 g (a small bunch) fresh coriander (cilantro)
60 ml (¼ cup) olive oil
1 clove of garlic
squeeze of lime juice
To make the dough, mix all three kinds of flour with salt in a large bowl. Dissolve yeast in the tepid water and let stand for about 10 minutes. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the yeast mixture and olive oil. Stir with a wooden spoon until combined. Turn out on a a well floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes, sprinkling in a little flour as necessary to keep the dough from sicking. Clean the mixing bowl and grease it with a little oil. Put the dough in the bowl, turning it once, so that the surface is coated with oil. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and leave the dough to rise in a warm place, until doubled in size, for about 45 minutes. In a cool room this will probably take longer.
Meanwhile, prepare the toppings. Make the coriander pesto by combining coriander, olive oil and garlic in a blender and pureeing until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add a squeeze of lime juice.
Preheat the oven to 240 degrees (480 F). Put in a pizza stone to heat, if you have it. I don’t, so I put in an upside down baking sheet.
Divide the dough in two, if making two pizzas. Roll or stretch the dough out into a roughly round shape about 24 cm (10 inches) in diameter and place on a well floured wooden peel (if you’re a semi-pro pizza maker) or on a baking parchment (if, like me, you’re not).
Smear the tomato sauce on top, leaving an edge. Lay the tomatillos on top and sprinkle with the cheese. Bake in the preheated oven for 8 to 12 minutes (it might take slightly longer if you’re not using a pizza stone). Remove from the oven and top with the cilantro pesto.