Tomatoes and tomatillos are both fruits that people use as a vegetable. These plants are from the same family. Each has a firm outer skin with soft flesh and seeds inside. Depending on how they are prepared, both can offer a sweet or savory punch to any dish you add them to.
Tomatoes come in a range of colors. While most tomatoes are red, they can be yellow, green, orange, purple, brown or even multicolored hues of those same shades. Tomatillos, on the other hand, are generally green or yellow in color.
Tomatoes come in a variety of shapes and sizes, although the most common is red and round. However, heirloom tomatoes may grow in many different shapes and sizes, from as small as a cherry tomato to as large as a Ponderosa. There are more than 4,000 varieties of tomatoes, but the most common are cherry, Roma and beefsteak tomatoes. Tomatillos are smaller than a tomato -- about the size of a lime -- and have a papery husk on the outside that must be removed prior to cooking or eating.
Both tomatoes and tomatillos are low in calories and healthy. However, tomatoes offer more health benefits and vitamins than tomatillos. A regular serving of tomatoes (1 cup) has 37 calories and offers more than 50 percent of your daily recommended allowance for vitamin C. It is also rich in lycopene, a carotenoid and antioxidant known to reduce the risk of certain cancers. Tomatillos contain about 40 calories per one cup serving and offer around 30 percent of the daily value for vitamin C. They do not contain lycopene.
Tomatoes are used for many different recipes, raw or cooked. Tomatoes are found in spaghetti sauce and ketchup, can be sliced up and served with mozzarella and basil, or cooked and placed in rice or noodle dishes. You can also serve tomatoes in a salad, or snack on cherry tomatoes raw with some salad dressing or dip. Tomatillos are generally used in Mexican dishes, either raw in salsas or cooked in soups. However, tomatillos become mushy when cooked, so most people use them raw to keep the shape and texture.
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