Sunday, January 07, 2007

Salsa salvation: Ninfa's green sauce

When I was a small kid in Dallas, my parents and I often ate Mexican at Herrara’s, a charming hole in the wall where you had to walk through the kitchen to get to your coveted table, which was one of about 8—hence the long, long lines of hungry people streaming out the door. I always ordered the same thing: a child's tamale plate with rice and beans. No experimentation for me, I ate this every visit. This was the perfect Mexican meal for me and I was satisfied.

When I was nine, we moved to Houston. The first time we went to a Mexican restaurant, I was in for a big shock: where were the tamales? Instead, Houston Mexican menus featured dishes I'd never heard of such as enchiladas verdes. Also, being close to the Gulf, fish tacos were popular, as were tacos al carbon and a sizzling skillet of fajitas. And besides the usual bowl of red salsa on the table there was also a bowl of green. I was upset I couldn't order my usual meal, but after I had my first taste of green sauce—a creamy and tangy mix of avocados, cilantro, tomatillos, jalapenos and sour cream—I no longer missed tamales. Mexican food had taken on a whole new meaning. (Likewise, it was my first lesson in learning that Tex-Mex, like all great cuisines, has regional variations.)

Ninfa Laurenzo, the late proprietor of the Houston chain Ninfa’s is credited with inventing green sauce. But it’s the rare Mexican restaurant in Houston that doesn’t also offer the salsa—it's ubiquitous all over town. The one Houston restaurant that famously didn't serve it was Pappasito's, so I always refused to dine there—why bother? Without green sauce a Houston Tex-Mex meal was incomplete. (Though I have been informed that Pappasito’s has recently added green sauce so perhaps I’ll go there next time I’m in town).

I love all things Tex-Mex, but my passion for green sauce falls in a category of its own. On a visit to a Houston restaurant I can go through several bowls before my meal arrives. And whenever I visit my mom, she always keeps a quart on hand so I can indulge myself whenever I like. (Yes, long after everyone's gone to bed, you'll find me bathed in the refrigerator's light, guzzling green sauce.) I’ve even found a place in New York City that has it, El Rio Grande. The manager told me the original owner basically ripped Ninfa’s whole menu and while it’s not quite the same, it’ll do in a pinch.

But I wasn’t always so fortunate to have a local joint serving the stuff. In the early ‘90s, I lived in Iowa City, Iowa for a couple of years. While I could find decent steaks, just about everything else that reminded me of Texas was unavailable to me in the Midwest, including my beloved green sauce. I had tried recreating the salsa on my own, but with little success. My mom would send me clippings from the Houston Chronicle of favorite recipes (these were the dark, pre-Internet days), all appreciated, but not quite what I was missing. Every week I’d ask her, “Did they run a recipe for green sauce yet?” And every week she gave me the same answer: “No.” But finally, after caving to much demand, the Chronicle finally printed it, noting it was the paper's most-requested recipe. She called me with the good news, saying, “At last, I have your recipe. Are you sure you want it? It calls for imitation sour cream! Yuck!” Well, that’s an easy substitution (I can’t even begin to imagine what imitation sour cream actually is)—salsa salvation, at last!

Finding all the ingredients was a tall order in Iowa (tomatillos weren’t a common Midwestern grocery staple at the time), but once I’d finally sourced everything needed, the rest was easy. It was one of the first times I realized that I could recreate a taste of home no matter where I happened to be.

So I present to you today the recipe that brought me much joy. For those of you who aren't cilantro fans, you can make the salsa without, but I can't guarantee it'll taste as divine. While the creamy avocados and sour cream complement the tang of the tomatillos, it’s the cilantro that gives this salsa its distinct flavor. It’s not too spicy, though you can add more jalapenos if you crave more heat. And while I’m content to eat the salsa with tortilla chips or yes, even just a spoon, it also goes well with enchiladas, fish, carnitas and chicken. It doesn’t keep long (the avocados will make it turn brown in a day or so) but it’s so splendid I doubt you'll have any left over.

I have no idea why this salsa is found only in Houston. But since I now have the recipe, it doesn't matter to me—thanks to Mom, the Chronicle and Ninfa, I can make it any place I find myself in the world.

Ninfa’s Green Sauce

Ingredients:
3 medium-sized green tomatoes, coarsely chopped (you can substitute yellow if you can’t find green ones, but never use red)
4 tomatillos, cleaned and chopped
1 to 2 jalapenos, stemmed and coarsely chopped
3 small garlic cloves
3 medium-sized ripe avocados, peeled, pitted and sliced
4 sprigs cilantro
1 tsp. of salt
1 1/2 cups of sour cream

Method:
Combine chopped tomatoes, tomatillos, jalapenos and garlic in a saucepan. Bring to a boil (tomatoes provide the liquid), reduce heat and simmer 10 to 15 minutes.
Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
Place tomato mixture with the avocados, cilantro and salt in food processor or blender and blend until smooth.
Pour into a bowl and stir in sour cream.

Makes 4 to 5 cups

Are you a green sauce fan? And did you ever quest for a much-loved but hard-to-find recipe?

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137 comments:

pokerboss said...

Thanks for this one. Ninfa's Beaumont location closed recently. I swear, people in Beaumont have little or no taste. They vote McDonald's "Best Hamburger" every year in the newspaper's poll. Oh well, Houston isn't that far away.

stephanie said...

Lisa, this sounds fantastic! I'm definitely going to make it instead of my guacamole next time I want a fun party dip. Reminds me about our midtown lunch comments. Will email you.

Yvo said...

Mmm, yum. Hmm, now I can't verify but I've been to a few Mexican type restaurants (fusion, maybe?) (I've been ah, off Spanish/Latin/Mexican food for a bit since the whole "it's so trendy" thing made me want to barf- every time I went out, it'd be Spanish food but not even GOOD Spanish food! Then I went to Spain and I was like, this is what we should eat... not that fake crap!) that had a green sauce, not sure if it was this because ever since an unfortunate incident eating green sauce that was super spicy while the red, threatening one turned out to be the mild one, I ... am a baby. Hahaha. The place that comes to mind off hand is La Palapa, though, I went to the one on W4th, though there's also one on the East side...

PS I have a quick question about salsa. I tried my hand at making salsa for the first time and while it was tasty- my boyfriend in particular devoured it like mad- it had little if NO kick whatsoever. I used serrano peppers but removed the seeds and most of the whites before dicing finely (my bf and I both are spicy-adverse, though he more than I). Should I have kept some seeds in there? Should I have used a different kind of pepper? FreshDirect's website said that the serrano goes well with tomato and cilantro, so I thought that was fitting. My brother in law says I should have used Jalapeno but didn't say anything about whether I was right to remove all of the seeds and capsaicin. Thanks!

Yvo said...

BTW (sorry for taking up so much space of your comment box!!!) I LOVE LOVE LOVE the picture and placement of recipe next to "JOY JOY JOY JOY [of cooking]" :)

Anonymous said...

Love your site - found it googling Hell on the Red.

Ninfa is also credited (at least in Houston) with inventing Tacos al Carbon and with making the best tortillas in the world. Even though we felt the quality of food decreased when her sons expanded the navagation restaurant into a chain and seldom ate there since, we would still drop by for (hot) take-out tortillas whenever we cooked mexican.

Homesick Texan said...

Pokerboss--You're welcome. Surely there's some good Mexican in Beaumont, it's still Texas after all.

Stephanie-It's a great substitute for guacamole--you get all the avocado flavor, but it serves more than a 3-avocado guac.

Yvo--Serranos are hotter than jalapenos, but I reckon it lost it's kick when you took the seeds out (cos that is the main source of its heat). How many did you use? Next time, just de-stem them and chop, and they should be good and spicy. And thanks for the compliment on the photo. It wasn't planned--I just happened to have the recipe in my Joy of Cooking book, but it fits with the theme!

Anonymous--Thanks! I agree about the tortillas--they're the best.

melissa mcgee said...

i miss ninfa's. that was one of my favorite mexican restaurants when i lived in dallas. the chile rellenos were my favorite, and just a thought of them could propel me to go get them. and their green sauce? i'll have to agree. it is the BEST.

Jenifer said...

I love Ninfa's! I make my boyfriend take me there and we share the fajitas. I can't wait to move to Houston next week and have them readily available to me at anytime.

I know the sauce to which you speak. I never encountered it until I started dating B, and I love it. I wonder if Ninfa's will ship the sauce to you? If they do, it's yours!

Homesick Texan said...

Melissa--I miss Ninfa's, too! I don't think if I ever had a chile relleno there but I reckon it's top notch. And yes, I agree, Ninfa's green sauce is indeed the best.

Jenifer--I don't know if they ship the sauce, but this recipe is spot on. Enjoy Houston--I grew up there and it's a very cool town. Fantastic food and great arts, including the Menil, the opera and the Alley Theatre.

Glenda said...

I'm a native Houstonian, currently residing in west Texas -- just found your blog and have been enjoying it. Looking forward to trying a couple of the recipes you've posted.

Blue Bell Banana Pudding ice cream is my most favorite flavor, ever. But then, you really can't go wrong with *any* flavor of Blue Bell!!

The post about bacon grease took me back in time to my grandma's kitchen -- she always had a coffee can of bacon grease sitting on the stove. You just don't see that much anymore!!

Is there a recipe floating around your family for butter beans (lima beans)??? That's one recipe I didn't get from my grandma before she died and I'd love to make DH and I some down-home butter beans and cornbread. We've tried making them before, but they've never turned out like my grandma's. (Huh, I bet hers contained bacon grease!!). If you make these, or your mom or grandma does, and have a recipe to share, I'd love to try it.

Foodie Bride said...

Oh, my. I have no idea what I'd do without my beloved Texas or what my husband would do without regular access to his beloved Ninfa's!

Just found your site and I'll be back regularly!

Homesick Texan said...

Glenda--Thanks for stopping by--I wasn't a big fan of butter beans growing up, but yes, we ate them. I'll do a post, and I reckon bacon will be a star player (it's the only thing that can make them taste half-way decent!)

Foodie Bride--I look forward to seeing you again! Eat some green sauce for me.

Ivonne said...

Imitation sour cream ... what the hell???!!!

I just love reading your stories. I could spend all night reading them. So much nostalgia and love of food. I'm thrilled that you finally recreated that sauce. I'm just going to help myself to a chip and some dip!

Vanessa said...

I think I need to go to El Rio Grande tonight because your post just made me starving. I didn't realize there is "creamy" stuff (sour cream & avocado) in green sauce. Can you tell me what the big jars of green sauce is at the Mexican bodegas? I make enchiladas and chile rellenos with it.

Homesick Texan said...

Ivonne--I know! Pretty disgusting, eh? And many thanks for your very sweet compliment!

Vanessa--The green sauce you buy in a jar is usually just a mixture of tomatillos and green chiles (such as jalapenos or serranos) mixed with onion, garlic and cilantro. It's tasty, too, and easy to make.

Renz said...

Re green sauce, what more needs to be said (though my favorite in Houston now is served at Los Cucos - I'd be delighted to have a bowl of that and a spoon)... Just wanted to add in an enthusiastic yes! on Herrera's. During my brief time in Dallas, the free bowl of borracho beans was one of the highlights.

Homesick Texan said...

Renz--Oh my! Los Cucos is my new fave Mex place in Houston now too! Sooooooo yummy!

Catherine said...

yummy! this sounds awesome!

Stacy said...

Thank you so much, I have been looking for this recipe. I am pregnant and craving this green sauce. I am also a homesick Texan born and raised in Houston. I am stuck in Florida with my Navy husband.

beck said...

Oh. My. Stars.

I could HUG you!

I'm also a homesick Texan...only I'm in Germany. sigh. You don't WANNA know how Tex-Mex is slaughtered here. :rolleyes:

About this post/recipe...I ate at Ninfa's with a friend about 10 years ago, before our first assignment (military) overseas. She raved about their green salsa. I wasn't too sure. And OH, I've craved it ever since! WOW...you've made my day/week/year!!!!

WOOHOO! I get green sauce!

(yes, I can actually get tomatillos here, as well as the other ingredients. It'll be a totally international salsa, with avocados from Israel, Cilantro from Germany and I think the tomatillos are from the Philippines...but HEY! *I* get to eat it! ~*~Happy dance~*~

:D
beck
PS: just found you today through Elise at Simply Recipes Blog

kerri said...

thanks for the recipe! i just moved to Boston from Houston and my last meal out was Ninfa's on Navigation. I'll definitely miss Houston Tex-Mex and the green sauce!

Anonymous said...

Just so you know, Pappasito’s does have a green sauce, we go there often because there isn't a Ninfa's near me in Humble (northeast of Houston). However, i've eaten at the original Ninfa's, and yes, it is the best and the tortillas are the best ever!

Jennifer said...

I lived in Houston (out near Katy) about, wow, more than 15 years ago - until I was twelve - and my *favorite* restaurant was Marco's. They also had green sauce, and when we had a family night out, the four of us would go through at least three servings of it before the food arrived, and the leftovers always got smothered in it. I could never find a recipe from Marco's online, as much as I have searched, but this, hopefully, will sate my cravings. Thank you so very very much!

katie said...

I just discovered your blog from Simply Recepies. What a jewel! As a displaced Texan living in Boston, I can't even begin to tell you how much I'm enjoying your posts. And a recipie for Ninfa's green sauce! I think I've found heaven on the internet =)

Anonymous said...

There's a Ninfa's in Baton Rouge and they make that lovely, lovely green sauce.

Homesick Texan said...

Catherine--It is!

Stacy--You're welcome! Enjoy!

Beck--Wonderful! Many thanks! I love that your indgredients are so well travelled!

Anon--The original Ninfa's on Navigation is indeed the best. I try to go there every time I go home. And it looks I need to go to Pappasito's as well.

Jennifer--I remember Marco's! Their green sauce is pretty much the same as Ninfa's, maybe less sour cream (I seem to remember Marco's was a bit thinner than Ninfa's).

Katie--I'm so glad you stopped by. Enjoy the sauce!

Anon--I haven't been to Baton Rouge in a few years, but next time I'm there I'll have to eat at Ninfa's. Thanks for the tip!

Texan in DC said...

You have no idea how excited I am about this recipe! I'm from College Station and always make it a point to eat at Ninfa's when I'm home. I'm eaten at a LOT of Mexican food places in my time and it's my absolute favorite! I didn't get to go the last time I was home, so this makes me happy. You made my day! :)

Katie Duncan said...

Can't believe I found this blog. I have a HUGE obsession with Ninfa's green sauce and their fajitas. Both my husband and I work pretty late, and we get Ninfa's to go in our town in central TX at least 4 times a week. It's pretty sad, but I can't get enough of their green salsa!

Tried making it once, and I'm a decent chef, but it tasted nothing like it (used the above recipe). I must've done something wrong because I've heard this recipe is synonymous to the real thing.

Thanks for your blog!

Jennie said...

Just googled up the imitation sour cream thing, and it's no more thatn cottage cheese and a squeeze of lemon juice whirled through the food processor. Not as yucky as it sounds. Maybe it's a textural thing?

Looking forward to trying this and your pimento cheese recipe!!!

PS: Can you think of a good substitute for the tomatillos?

From the Culinarily Homesick Texan in Copenhagen.

Homesick Texan said...

Texan in DC--Glad to make you happy!

Katie--Hmmmm, I don't know what to tell you, but since you eat the real thing so often I reckon you have a better idea of what it should taste like. I think this is like Ninfa's, but it's been a while!

Jennie--That doesn't so bad, I was picturing lots of chemicals and fillers in imitation sour cream. In any case, I don't know how this would taste w/o the tomatillos, but Indians cook with them, surely there's an Indian or Pakistani grocery in Copenhagen? At the very worst, you can have canned ones shipped to you. Of course, you could do it with just regular green tomatoes, but I don't think it would be quite the same. Good luck!

Ted said...

I'm a 5th Generation Texan, born and raised in San Antonio and the surrounding areas, and I lived for the past year in Tennessee, and Denver, Colorado for 9 years before that. I crave carne guisada tacos, and cheese ennchilada plates. Your blog is a lot of fun and also makes me homesick. One of my favorite things to do when I visit San Antonio is to go shopping at H.E.B. for all of the foods I cant find anywhere else. Thanks for the stroll down memory lane.

Anonymous said...

Yippee! I'm also a native Texan (from the aforementioned Beaumont)and could eat this stuff every day. I'll be making a huge batch of Ninfa's green sauce for a summer cookout tonight, provided that I can find green or yellow tomatoes at my local Whole Foods in Alexandria, VA.

Katie G said...

I read this post around the correct time frame, but recently someone mentioned the Ninfa's Green Sauce, so I came back to find out the name of this restaurant -- Rio Grande. I'm going today!!! Thanks for the tip.

Rhonda said...

Hey.. thanks for the green salsa recipe. I'm from the Austin, TX area and usually make pico de gallo. I'm going to make the green salsa one tonight with some grilled fajitas and homemade chips. I was wondering if you have or know someone who might have the recipe for Los Cucos' fried breast of chicken with poblano and creamy shrimp sauce recipe?
Thanks!

Homesick Texan said...

Hi Rhonda--I don't have their exact recipe, but I'll see what I can find. I LOVE Los Cucos!

Crystal M said...

GREEN SAUCE is my favorite also!! I make it all of the time and if we go out for mexican it has to be somewhere that has green sauce. I don't go by a direct recipe I just throw it all in the blender until it tastes good. And there are alot of places in East Texas that serves Green sauce! If your ever in east texas I will tell you all of the great places to go!!

Nathan said...

I only live three hours away from Houston - moved to Austin after high school - and I still can't find this stuff. There's one Ninfa's on the opposite side of town, and a Los Cucos in San Marcos, but I've referenced this recipe several times, and it's great.

I do think that there must be something of a difference between the results using imitation and real sour cream - I haven't tried any imitation sour cream, but to me, one and a half cups ended up way too creamy. I tend to use between half a cup and a cup.

Anonymous said...

I live close to Beaumont, and when Ninfa's closed after Rita it was such a blow. I emailed corporate Ninfa's and complained. Reply? "So sorry, it was just a franchise and they couldn't recoup after Rita". I am glad I found your site; any good recipes for their carnitas?

Anonymous said...

I am a Houston native living in Dallas and have been searching endlessly for a restaurant that serves the green sauce from home. Now, thanks to your site, I can make it myself!! I sent the recipe to my mom; she craves it as much as I do!

Anonymous said...

I grew up in Texas but now live in TN. I was first introduced to the green salsa as a kid at Casa Ole. I've also had it at Ninfa's and I absolutely love this stuff. I can eat 3-4 bowls before the meal. I searched all over the net for the recipe and then I found this site. I tried making the salsa per the directions but mine taste TOO bitter. I tried adding more cilantro, garlic and salt but it hasn't helped. Any thoughts? I miss the salsa and I would love to be able to make this at home and have it taste like it does at Ninfas and Casa Ole. I'm up for any suggestions.

Anonymous said...

Just found your site and love it...thank you. I'm in Austin and thank goodness every day that I wake up here.
The best tamales in the world are from Rosies on Hwy 71. And I don't have a clue what they put in their guacamole but it's the best there is. When I entertain I get a few dozen tamales, guac and their queso and the party's on...
I think the whole name is Rosie's Tamale House? It's wonderful.

Nicole Sauce said...

I just wanted to thank you for clarifying for me what the yummy green sauce un Houston is. I referenced your post and recipe on my blog: http://nicolesauce.com/2008/01/17/what-is-the-green-salsa-they-serve-in-houston-made-of.aspx

Anonymous said...

"I tried making the salsa per the directions but mine taste TOO bitter."

I've made this recipe several times, and there was one time when it came out pretty bitter tasting.

I think the culprit there is vegetables that aren't quite ripe. The one time it came out bitter, I think I remember having had to make do with tomatillos that weren't quite ready to be peeled, and that's what I've blamed for the bitterness.

Anonymous said...

I lived in Houston, Texas for 20 years before the good old U.S. Gov. moved my husband and I to Okinawa, JP for 3 years and then to Alaska where we are now. I can not tell you how deprived I am of decent Mexican food! A friend of mine, who is also from Houston and is now living in AK, actually froze and brought me green sauce and queso from Casa Ole when she went home to visit. I wanted to cry when I ate it. It was that good! I am so excited to try this green sauce recipe but I would also love a good recipe for queso if any has one. And not that Velveeta stuff. That doesnt count!

Granata said...

Great recipe. I made it and it turned out just like I thought it would. Someone mentioned Marcos green sauce! When I lived in Houston we also went to Marcos for the green sauce but when we visited Marcos for the first time in probably 10 years, it was not as good as we remembered. A few weeks ago my wife and I were in Houston and we stopped to eat at a place called El Basque in the Woodlands. Their green sauce was pretty different from Ninfas but it was out of control good!

Andy said...

I grew up near Beaumont, so every time we went to Houston when I was a kid, a bowl of green sauce at Ninfa's was in order. Live near Chicago now, and no one has ever heard of the stuff. I just whipped up a batch and am happily munching away, Corona in hand. Thank you so much for posting this recipe. Also, next time I make chicken enchiladas, they are SO getting smothered in this...Heaven!

Allison said...

Yay!! I am from College Station where there is a tex mex place on every corner but now I live in NC. Plenty of Mex but no Tex...I mean their queso is white for goodness sake! So, if you find a Tex Mex queso recipe I would love to have it or that Queso Del Mar, really gooey cheese concoction that you put on tortillas...help me I am going to have a melt down!

Homesick Texan said...

Allison--Don't have a melt down! On my home page right now is a queso recipe.

WKB said...

THANKS SO MUCH...for this recipe. I have wanted it for about 27 years. Ninfs's has always been my favorite Mex Restaurant even before I moved to Dallas. Yesterday, a friend and I went by the Ninfa's on Stemmons in Dallas and found out it is now J.Pepe's or something like that. I was so mad we almost left. But they still had the same green salsa and great Ninfa's flour Tortillas. But no Ninfa's. Now, if you have the have the recipe for their flour tortillas and Queso Chihuahua, I would write you in my will.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting the recipe for Ninfa's Green Sauce... that was the push I needed to finally make it at home! I live in the Houston area and had saved the recipe from the Chronicle from way back in about 1998. In defense of my delay... it's pretty easy to get great green sauce here, so no big push to make it at home... until I saw your Green Sauce posting.

This recipe makes a lot of sauce! I only used 1 cup of light sour cream, but did add extra garlic, tomatillos and tomatoes so it was about the right consistency. I also fudged a tad at the end with some freshly cracked black pepper... I think you can't go wrong with this one... it's great no matter what you do to it, at least within reason.

Thanks for the great blog... my 15 years in Texas have brought a great appreciation of the foods of Texas!

madcook

Anonymous said...

When we lived in Houston, my husband was addicted to Ninfa's green sauce. We've lived in Costa Rica now for four and a half years, and until today was unable to find tomatillos. Thanks to you I now have the recipe for the sauce, and once again my husband can enjoy his favorite.
Thank you~thank you~ thank you.

Track said...

Hi there...I recently moved to NJ, after 10 years in TX. Been here a year, lamenting the lack of sausage kolaches & passable tex-mex...

Have you found, the local grocery-store jalapenos are so mild you can eat them like carrots? I digress...

Just yesterday, ate at a little mexican spot in Flemington, NJ...It's more mexican than tex-mex, BUT, most importantly found a great green sauce near my home! Their default salsa with an order of chips & salsa was an excellent, nicely spicy tomatillo concoction...Viva Mexico is the name...

http://www.restaurantevivamexico.com/

Teresa said...

I live 20 minutes south of dallas and mike herrera is one of my father's real good friends...he said to tell you that he is very happy that his family's resturants were one of your favorites..he said to tell you that hes sorry your not able to eat there anymore.

Anonymous said...

I found your blog while searching for tomatillo recipes. Talk about a walk down memory lane! I lived in Houston in the 1980's. My husband and I loved Marco's. I could have bathed in their Green Sauce! After moving back to Kentucky I searched for a recipe and found (and made) the Ninfa’s Green Sauce. We're growing our own tomatillos and I know what I'm making with the first harvest. I'm looking forward to reading more of your blog. -Mary (marmar421@yahoo.com)

Comfortcook said...

I really love your site. I subscribed after referring to it so many times. You really have a way with words and know how to tell a great story, but your recipes and food look (and are!) delicious. Thank you for taking the time to help the rest of us master that great Texas taste! Comfortcook
www.comfortcook.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

is there a way to can the green sauce, i have a lot of tomatoes.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure it tastes good, but I can't add sour cream to my tomatillo salsa. Just call me a purist.

DyessFam said...

Oh, my goodness, I'm so glad you posted the green sauce recipe! I can't tell you how many times we've been in a different state, go to a mexican restaurant and no green sauce to be found! I also understand about the regional differences in Texas. I've lived in several parts and I always end up having to go back home to East Texas to get a fix! I'm really glad to see the reps from East Texas on here! I have to make a statement and I hope I don't upset anyone.... I've eaten at Ninfa's in San Antonio, TX (it was the only place there that I could find that serves the green sauce) and I have to say that for me, Casa Ole in East Texas still reigns supreme for their super yummy green sauce. Its so good that I have to use the words of a friend to describe the relationship I have with it, "Just hook me up to an IV of it!" I must say, though, that NInfa's did save me from being destitute without green sauce!!

Kolbi said...

I have another Ninfa's question. What was the puff ball with melty, drippy cheese? Do you know what I'm talking about, I know that's a bad description but it's been more than 20 years since a Mama Ninfa experience. It is the only place I've ever seen such a thing. Everyone I've ever asked thinks I'm insane (of course in MO they think Taco Bell is Mexican...)
~~stuck in MO, but once a Texan, always a Texan

Anonymous said...

A West Texas restauranteer once told me that
the Herdez brand canned green salsa was the
salsa that was used on the tables at Ninfas
along with the red for the chips. I think he
trained there at one time.

Michaelynn said...

Just wanted to say I'm soo happy that I found your website! And I can't believe you have Grandma Ninfa's recipe on here!! I grew up with the Lorenzo's.. Her Grandson Dante and I used to be really good friends in highschool. I'm from Houston, and grew up on Ninfa's like most others. I'm living in Florida now, and I so miss so many of the wonderful restaurants and food that only Texas has..

The only bad thing is that the family sold the business so that a lot of the recipe's have since changed. The family opened up another restaurant that I frequent when I go home, and they still have all of the excellent sauces and recipes! I think the only original Ninfa's is the one in downtown Houston.Regardless I have a few of the receipes too and Im so glad that you posted the green sauce!! Yummy!! If there are any other favs from any Houston restaurant, let me know... I think my Mom has every recipe from every GREAT restaurant in Houston. She has a knack for getting them.... ;)

again.. thanks for such a great website.. oh and the reason I found you is because I put in "king ranch Chicken" and your site came up! I'm making it tonight!! yummy~~

Mandy said...

Girl, I am right there with you. I grew up in Houston also and I must agree that the green salsa at Ninfa's was always my favorite too. I'm making homemade tortilla soup later this, week and this amazing salsa will be a perfect appetizer. THANKS! YUM!!

Erin said...

I love you. I have always wondered how to make the green sauce. I have lived in Houston all my life and now I'm up here in NYC for school and I miss it so much. I'm going to have a field day during winter break, finally being able to eat all my wonderful Texan meals, featuring a strict diet of BBQ, Tex-Mex, and Blue Bell ice cream. You have inspired me to have a Texas Thanksgiving and cook all the meals from back home. I can't wait! Thank you! :)

Anonymous said...

We've moved from Houston to Austin and our Houston friends still bring us green sauce when they visit!

I've also discovered an HEB Green Chile Tomatillo Salsa that I use with the avocados, cilantro and sour cream. It is very easy to make and satisfies my Ninfa's cravings.

Anonymous said...

Herrera's?? This is officially my favorite website. Menudo - breakfast of champions!

Anonymous said...

I lived in Houston for 27 years until 1997 and Ninfa's green sauce was always a favorite! I live in Phoenix now and sadly, southwestern Mexican food doesn't hold a candle to Tex-Mex!

I have a great cookbook called "Texas Home Cooking" by Cheryl and Bill Jamison that includes this exact recipe!

Michelle said...

I was born in raised in the Houston area currently living in small town, IL. I miss the food so much, I can't wait to make this sauce. Thank you!

dazzy said...

makes me happy live in houston, i couldnt immagine not eating good tex-mex atlest once a day.. los cucos is goooood

Anonymous said...

I love green sauce & have been eating it forever it seems. I can't remember where I first had it but I prefer it to red sauce. Red sauce bothers me, too much acid. I love red tomatoes & grow them every year. When I cook Italian foods I learned to add wine to the red sauces to make them digest better. I don't know if that will work with Tex Mex tho. Green is way good & I'm trying this recipe tonight at my sister's. She's making stacked beef enchiladas. Yummy.
Oh, I've been up all night reading your blog. Soon I'll have to catch a few winks but I'll definitely be back. hugz Sniki

Amy C Evans said...

OMG, how have I not seen this before? Again, we lived the same childhood. I grew up eating at Ninfa's and ate there every Wednesday night for most of my childhood with my dad. We always got fajitas; he always ordered a Ninfarita, up, with salt; and I always left with a bellyache from overindulging on chips and green sauce before the meal even arrived. Mama Ninfa died the summer I moved to Mississippi. I have one of the memorial photos of her that graced the tables of the original location on Navigation saved in one of my sketchbooks. And last year for my birthday I recreated my favorite Ninfa's meal at home, green sauce and homemade tortillas included. There really isn't anything better. Thanks so much for this post!

Amy C Evans said...

Also, a confession: sometimes in a pinch I'll mix a jar of salsa verde with sour cream and cilantro to satisfy a craving....

Nathan said...

Kolbi - slim chances you'll check back, but that was the "puff tostada". Ninfa's had a plate called "El Rey", that was two puff tostadas covered in queso served with rice and beans. And that was what I ordered at Ninfa's (hold the beans, double rice) as a child often enough that one waiter at the (now closed) Woodlands location would ask me if I wanted the usual.

I always thought that the puff tostada was standard tex-mex fare, but I just googled the term and almost nothing comes up. It seems like Los Cucos (my second favorite, after Ninfa's_) might serve them.

I don't know how puff tostadas are made, but it seemed like it was pretty much a fried puffed up corn tortilla. Essentially you were eating chips and queso, but the crunchy texture of the thin layer of tostada was the perfect counterpart to the chewy texture of the thick homemade flour tortilla chips that came with an order of chili con queso. Plus, it was just so much fun to take the fork and break up the puff ball.

ironacres said...

Thanks for the recipe! I love anything with avocados. There is a Houston recipe I would give my eye teeth for--Christy's remoulade sauce from the 50s. My sister and I dined at the Christy's on Westheimer this summer and I tried the remoulade, but it was not what I remembered.

Anonymous said...

thank you so much for such a great site!! from two homesick texans in Indiana.

Jeff said...

Ninfa's was my favorite growing up as a kid but I think that chain has really kind of let itself go over the years though (except for the original which is still fantastic). Pappasitos has been my favorite for years and years now and every time I get to Texas that is the first place I go.

Anyway I made this sauce over the weekend and it was fantastic! I couldn't find any green tomatoes so I just used red and it was still great. Thanks so much for posting this recipe!

Pat Welch said...

I'm another Houston to Boston transplant - as a 20's something, we used to stand in line at Ninfa's navigation for over half an hour to get Tacos al Carbon, the great chips and ohhh the green sauce. I went on line just on a lark looking for the recipe and found your site! What a find... Thanks... I'm book marking now and headed to the store for the rest of the items for the recipe! Whoo hoo!

Casey said...

I just made this sauce. I couldn't find green tomatoes (and it's too early to have tomatoes in the garden) so just used enough extra tomatillos to make up for it (I had to use a tiny bit of water to make up for the lack of liquid for the lack of tomatoes, but once the tomatillos got cooking, it was plenty of liquid.)

All in all though, it was good, but not what I was expecting. To me, it tasted mostly like a Sour Cream/Guacamole mix, which reminded me of my time living in San Diego, where everything was covered in heaps of guacamole and sour cream. Ultimately, with 3 avacados and 1.5c sour cream, it would be really hard for any tomato/tomatillo flavor to really come through.

It makes for an excellent dip, but for something like Enchiladas Verde, I think I would go for more of a traditional Salsa Verde.

Anonymous said...

I have been longing to know the recipe for a delicious, slightly creamy salsa verde that I have enjoyed at an Allen, TX (surburb just north of Dallas) restaurant called La Finca. It is so delicious! And I hope, hope, hope this recipe proves to be it!

Love your site!

Kristin

Nathan said...

I'm a displaced Houstonian in DC. I CANNOT wait to make this tonight!! Thanks for posting!

rbarenblat said...

I'm a new reader (thanks to Saveur's Texas issue) and wanted to wave and say hello. I'm a Diaspora Texan -- born and reared in San Antonio, though I've lived in a small town in western Massachusetts since 1992, and I'm pretty well-planted here. We cook a lot of Mexican food, though, since the local restaurants which claim to serve it are not worth a damn. :-)

A few years ago the CSA where we belong started growing tomatillos. Now we make a massive batch of green salsa every summer and freeze it so we can make enchiladas verdes whenever the yearning arises. Our recipe doesn't call for avocados or sour cream -- just roasted tomatillos, sweet onion, lots of garlic, fresh jalapeƱos, and cilantro. A bit of cider vinegar and lime juice, sea salt and fresh pepper to taste. Mmmm.

Anonymous said...

Having lived in the Houston area since 1976, I can tell you that the original Ninfa's down on Navigation makes the best green sauce on the planet. I have been to a lot of other places all over the world and the ones that do have green sauce don't even come close. When I worked down on Navigation in the early '80s we would hit the door running at 10:45 because if you weren't at the door when Ninfa's opened you were going to have a long wait. The line could go on for blocks, seriously long lines. By the way, they do have tamales, but they are not always on the menu, you have to ask.

Anonymous said...

This looks like a good recipe, I'll have to give it a try.

I must add, however, that the Midwest is not entirely bereft of good Mexican restaurants...Milwaukee, WI's entire south side is a wonderful area to find a good place to eat. The style in Minneapolis, MN is very different, and many places feature a spicy bright yellow chile salsa instead of the standard red (or green). Also wonderful.

That said, don't come to Washington, DC for Mexican. You will most likely be disappointed.

sarah said...

True Houstonians (and green sauce lovers) are even particular about which Ninfas their green sauce comes from....my preference is Memorial Drive near Dairy Ashford. They have the best green sauce in my humble opinion. Still have yet to find good green sauce in Austin and the Ninfas here just went out of business--it was good, but not great on the Ninfas scale. I'm going to try this recipe and see if I can't recreate the magic in my own kitchen! Thanks for posting.

Joy said...

Fantastic! I was so excited to find this, I now live in Germany and I mess good ole' Tex-Mex like crazy. Tomatillos aren't availabe here, but I tried it with one can of Herdez spicy green sauce (in the Ethnic food aisle) in place of the salt, jalepenos, cilantro, and tomatillos, since those are the main ingredients of the canned staff. Even with that substitution is tasted exactly like I remember Ninfa's. Thanks so much! I am making the cheese enchiladas with this on Saturday and I'm sure they will be great too.

Bob said...

Lisa,

Wow. This recipe is TERRIFIC. A real keeper. I made it last night along with your Carnitas recipe (to die for) and your Mexican rice. I am quite sure I will be making all three many more times in the future. I can't wait to try more of your recipes (especially your version of Green Chili as well as your Chile con Queso recipe). As I commented elsewhere in your blog, what I enjoy the most about your work is that you pay attention to things like enjoyable and well-written prose, beautiful photos, and great food. Anybody can write a list of ingredients and provide basic directions. You do more than that - you invite us into your kitchen and talk to us like we are your friend.

I will spread the word among my friends that they can come here to learn how to make and enjoy great food in general and great Tex-Mex food in particular.

Anonymous said...

We lived in Houston for about 30 yrs. before transferring to Oklahoma where I learned that OK-Mex is nothing like TX-Mex. We can't find a green sauce similar to Ninfa's or Los Cucos anywhere so we overindulge on our return trips to Houston or Dallas to the point of embarrassment! I think I could literally drink it.

For those in the Dallas area, the good news is that there is a relatively new Los Cucos in Plano off the Dallas Tollway at Park Avenue on the SE corner. It is very good and the closest location to OK to our knowledge.

I've made the Ninfa's green sauce recipe and agree that it ended up way too creamy from too much sour cream. My problem is not in finding the tomatillos, but in finding the green tomatoes. Our son in AZ made Ninfa's recipe, however, and thought it was great. He's been without it longer so may not have as accurate a comparison experience.

I've tried Pappasito's version of green sauce in Houston--definitely not the same so I haven't had it again. It's hard to beat their beef fajitas, beans, rice, and red salsa, though, so we make it a point to still go there when in either Dallas or Houston.

I'm trying something new today--a can of Herdez Salsa Verde to which I'll add some avocado, cilantro, jalapeno pepper, garlic salt, and a bit of sour cream. I wish I had an exact recipe, but I don't. After reading these posts, I wonder if I should have bought a can of tomatillos instead. With those ingredients, it couldn't be horrible so will just have to experiment with it and find the right combination.

As an aside, our very favorite tortilla chips are El Milagro Mexican Kitchen Style--no preservatives, artificial coloring, additives; no salt; all natural. These are absolutely great warmed slightly on a cookie sheet in the oven for 2-3 minutes or so and then salted. YUM--so good! They are not on every grocer's shelf, but I've found them at Homeland/Safeway with other chips and at Target in the deli area(?). They are thin and crispy and worth making a special trip across town to find them.

You wouldn't think that OK was that far removed from TX, but I now believe that almost everything is better in TX! Coming from a native Oklahoman, that's saying a lot . . . ENJOY!

Mike H. said...

Native Houstonian here, waited tables at Marcos and Los Tios. Los Tios had the puffed corn tortillas covered by queso. Man, they were good.
Marcos is an Indian owned restruant that basically copied Los Tios menu. They never did figure out how the Garbett family at Los Tios made them puff up.
I love carnitas and have found my ultimate favorite, a taco stand in Martindale outside of San Marcos on highway 80. Los Cucos' carnitas were not even in the same league.
Kreuz's is the best BBQ place ever and the only one that has avocados as sides that I know of.
Love your site and my family is having a tex mex Christmas eve dinner. Tired of turkey! plan to utilize some the wonderful recipes you have.

Nathan said...

Love this recipe! Making a batch tonight to have ready for tomorrow's UT championship game.

I'm also making a half batch of what my girlfriend (who is from south Houston) claims to be Casa Ole's queso recipe. I'm hoping it's good - it uses American cheese, and includes celery.

Miss Meat and Potatoes said...

I just don't know how I missed this one. I must have been moving or on production... And green tomatoes - I had no idea! I think I've said it before but I grew up on Ninfa's in Houston then wound up living around the corner from the now vanished Ninfa in downtown Austin after college. Whether we ate at the restaurant or called in takeout - it was a Friday ritual. I am SO excited to make this. Any idea on where to get green tomatoes here in NYC?

Welcome to my blog! said...

Thanks for posting this. I grew up in Houston and LOVED Ninfa's green sauce. My grandmother gave me the recipe a long time ago (it was in the Houston Chronicle); but, who needed to make it back then - I just bought it by the quart from Ninfa's.

My husband is a pastor and we transferred to the midwest about 3 1/2 years ago, and I miss my green sauce! On top of that, I lost the recipe! So thanks for posting.

I'm wondering, the only tomatillos I've been able to find here in Illinois are much smaller than I remember (and expensive). Do you find you need to use more tomatillos when you don't have the Texas variety available?

onecookbookatathyme said...

I'm a native Houstonian, currently living in NW Houston and I love Ninfa's Green Sauce. I've been making it at home ever since I clipped the recipe from the newspaper years ago. I'm so glad you posted it for others to enjoy. BTW, I came across your blog today and I love it. I'll be following your blog regularly.

Mama Bird said...

This sounds fantab! I am having a party this weekend and going to add this to my "salsa bar" I am going to link back to you!! Thanks. I love a tried and true family fav!

Denver Kitty Blog said...

I too am a homesick Texan, currently residing in Denver. I returned home to Houston last week for my grandmother's 90th birthday party, and just HAD to stop at Marco's Restaurant (in The Woodlands on Sawdust) for some green sauce. I have dreams about this stuff!! Ninfa's is a close second but my heart belongs to Marco...whoever he is! Thanks for the recipe, I'm fixin' to make a whole vat of the stuff, which will last about two hours :)

Patrick said...

HOLY CRAP! I have been longing for green sauce for ages!! I grew up in Houston, but moved away back in 2002, and have never been able to find green sauce since. Wow I can't believe I happened on your blog and found this.. It's like my life is finally complete!! There is no way I can possibly put in words how incredibly excited this makes me! Thank you so much for posting this, I'm going shopping first thing in the morning to make this... I'm probably going to end up just chugging the whole batch down lol. Again, thanks so much for posting this recipe, I don't think I've ever missed any sort of food so much as green sauce since I moved away from Texas.

To Denver Kitty, that exact Marco's in The Woodlands is where I used to get my green sauce fix. I loved Marco's, used to eat there constantly! God I miss Texas!!

Karen said...

My daughter brought the recipe for Ninfa's Green Sauce when she moved to Birmingham from Austin and we LOVE it. I was searching for the recipe and appreciate your posting it!

Avery said...

I,too,am a Homesick Texan after moving to (gasp) Oklahoma. I miss Tex-Mex food, good Asian food (Houston has a gazillion great Asian restaurants!), and fresh shrimp. I also loved Ninfa's (the original on Navigation) and the green sauce; it is to die for. I love to cook and have read your blog for a number of years. Your recipes are spot on. Thanks a bunch for your your comments and your recipes.

~Avery

saela said...

I can't begin to tell you how excited I was to find this recipe! I absolutely love Ninfa's green sauce. I usually find an excuse at least once a year to go to Ninfa's in Baton Rouge, mainly for the green sauce and the fried chocolate banana dessert. I also love Papasita's (sp) in Houston, although their green sauce is not as good as Ninfa's, but their chocolate bread pudding is amazing!!!! Another great place for green sauce is Coyote Blues in Lafayette, LA. Thanks so much for posting this long sought after recipe for green sauce!!!

londontami said...

a displaced houstonian now living in london, england and you think you miss ninfas? haha. i cannot believe i found this recipe and right as i am making up my shopping list for christmas! i made the tortillas a few months ago and loved them so now i shall try the green sauce. love this website, i shall visit more frequently!

KarenZ said...

I, too, grew up in Houston. I cut this recipe from the Houston Post probably in 1979. The paper has long since closed, but I've made the salsa for friends from all over the world. Only real sour cream, and not quite as much for me.
Karen Z, Houston Native, Aggie and Homesick from Alexandria, VA

kimmyks food cake crafts and whatever said...

Now its being made in Australia.Yum and with the carnitas double Yum.Thanks.

applesauce82 said...

does anyone know if this sauce is close the the one that El Toro makes?

krnjohnsen said...

How does this recipe compare with the taste from the green sauce from Los Cucos?? I just went there last week and now craving it all the time. I'm looking for a great recipe to try over the weekend, and this one looks very promising...

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

krnjohnsen--it's similar to Los Cucos green sauce. I'm a big fan of theirs, as well!

TamTam said...

My husband joined the Navy in 2008 and since then, neither one of us has been home long enough to really enjoy our favorite meals (I'm from near Houston; he's from near Austin). I cannot tell you how long I have been craving this green salsa and I am SO GLAD I have found it thanks to you!!!!! (VA has this really weird mystery white sauce...tastes like ranch and mayo...YUCK!) I will definitely get good use from this recipe!!!

Sally Doherty said...

Holy guacamole! Thanks for bringing this recipe to me. I love Ninfa's, especially the green sauce. I will be making it for sure!

Cynthia said...

Two years ago, I found this post (THANK YOU!!) and started salivating. Ninfa's green sauce is the tastiest stuff known to man, I'm convinced. Just today, two years later, I finally got my hands on green tomatoes (living in northern az, tomatillos are easy to find, but you literally have to know someone who grows tomatoes to find anything other than bright red). I can not express in words how excited I am to finally make this!!! Thank you again!

Anonymous said...

If this is the salsa I am hoping it is, you will be the wisest and greatest of all sages.

1st Man said...

I'm definitely going to try this, I loved Ninfa's green sauce. If you get back to Houston, there is a chain called "Chuy's". They have a green sauce that is wonderful. Alot of customers call it "crack sauce" because it's so addicting. You should try it!

Thanks for recipe though, going to work on it this weekend!

http://twomenandalittlefarm.blogspot.com

1st Man

jushomecookin said...

I was born and raised in Houston, TX. We ate at Casa Ole' all the time I loved the green sauce. I live in East TN now they don't even know what Tex Mex food is much less green sauce. I am so glad I found this site. Real home recipes for some real good eating.
Thank you so much I cant wait to try this

Toddgregory said...

Funny connection. I have lived in Southern California (found my love for mexican food) and in Iowa (dying for something spicy). I have now spent the past 7 years in Houston and work in the the food and beverage business. The food and sauces are very different then on the west coast but I'm learning to love it. I've found my favorites! This green sauce looks great. I need to try it some time.

Anonymous said...

Thank you! I have been looking for the right green sauce.. I knew from experience that it was creamy and it had to have sour cream, along with tomatillos, jalapenos, and cilantro, but wasn't sure how to start with that! Thank you thank you thank you!! And I am dying to try out Ninfas. I have never been, but if it's anything like Cafe Adobe's recipe it has to be amazing!

Talk2Jorge said...

Does anyone think that the tomato/tomatillo part of the recipe can be frozen and then thawed again later when one is ready to use it with avacado and s.cream?

Mitch said...

just made the cheater version version of this, to go with your Houston carnitas. took a jar of tomatilla salsa and added an avocado and some sour cream--threw it in the food processor with some cilantro, garlic and red pepper flakes, and it was amazing!

Holly said...

Thanks for posting this! I also just moved to Iowa from Texas this past September and am definitely missing my beloved Tex-mex. Now I can just make my own!

JaeNiel said...

I go to Houston once every 2-3 years. And for someone that lived there for 17 years to move to North Carolina that has Taco Bell and On the Border (which I do like) to choose from, I have been having dreams of my beloved Ninfa's green sauce. THANK YOU FOR POSTING THIS AND SAVING MY LIFE.

KevinT said...

This is the first year we've grown tomatillos and have been looking for a green sauce recipe. Thanks so much for the recipe , the two tomatillo plants are LOADED so have to fine things to make with them.

Cheerful said...

I am a misplaced Texas in Georgia and I don't have to tell y'll that the poor excuse for Mexican food here is nasty! You don't even want to get me started on the BBQ- ick. I grew up in San Leon, near Galveston. I love Ninfa's and Estaban's Cantina in League City. One of my favorite things on the planet is green sauce! I can not wait to try it and see if FINALLY I have found the right recipe! We travel back to Texas frequently and that is a good thing because we love Joe T Garcia's salsa and you can not buy it here! Thank You for posting!!! A little taste of home is always a good thing!

Cheerful said...

OMG! This recipe was perfect! Tasted like home!

EmilyInGA said...

Finding this recipe totally makes this displaced Texan's day! Whenever I visit my in-laws in Houston the inevitable trip to Ninfa's is one of the highlights. Thank you!

Classy said...

Just made this today. Turned out great!!! I used fresh green tomatoes (we are growing actual green tomatoes this year and our garden fresh tomatillos. Had to buy avacados and jalapenos ( we planted bell and banana). I added a little lemon juice so the avacado wouldn't color change on me too badly. Homegrown garlic too. Threw the simmered tomato mix and avacado mix in the blender in small batches (it was pretty tasty at this stage) and then stirred in the sour cream. My family has been eating the heck out of this stuff all evening (as have I). Love this recipe!!!! Thank you so much!!! I had to swing by Ninfa's on Tuesday to curb a craving for this stuff!

Chels said...

Ah, so nice to stumble across another one of us scattered across the states. I haven't been as homesick for the green sauce (for me, it's the red sauce from Mamacitas), but my daughter sure has! I appreciate the recipe. Thanks!

Dawn said...

YES, I want a recipe for sweet and hot jalepenos....

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Dawn--Here's my recipe for bread and butter jalapeƱos.

MichelleUK said...

Lisa, I can't get fresh tomatillos here - would using canned tomatillos be acceptable? I am trying to plan what's coming back in my luggage on my next visit home.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Michelle--Yes, you can use canned tomatillos.

Another homesick Texan said...

Thank you for this recipe! My family ate at ninfa's almost every Monday and Wednesday night when I was in elementary school. After my high school graduation I had a small party with my family at Ninfa's. I even went to school with and babysat some of Ninfa's grandchildren! I am now an army wife living in Maryland and I just discovered this blog. As fellow homesick Texans and native Houstonians, my husband and I grateful you have made these recipes available!

Andrea said...

Thank you so much. I live in New Orleans, and I love my green sauce when I go back to Houston. I did notice that you need more peppers if you take the seeds out. It still turned out fabulous. I can't wait to share it with others tonight. I also just got your cookbook, and I plan to enjoy many more recipes.

Steve & Paula Leishman said...

Thank you!! Ninfa's was my family's monday night salvation growing up. I haven't been back for (sigh) 15 years and it's about time I had some real Tex-Mex (Rhode Island has no idea what that is!!)

Quilt Junkie said...

Thank you so much for sharing this! I miss Ninfa's SO much, but I missed it even before I left Houston. It just wasn't the same after the Laurenzo family sold it, but one could still get their green sauce fix there. No place in Columbus has anything like this sauce. Yet. ;-) Now if I can only find some tomatillos ..... As for other "special" foods I dearly miss from Texas, HEB's Love Dip and Churrasco's chimichurri sauce are right up there with Ninfa's green sauce. One of the first things I have to do when I visit Houston is find the nearest HEB and get a container of Love Dip. MMMMMmmmmmmm good!

Anonymous said...

I'm smiling thinking about Herrara's. I remember sitting on a big colemans ice chest full of beer waiting to get in. It was a long wait, but it was always fun hanging out with everyone to get their turn at a table. It was so good! Thanks for sparking the memories.

Becky said...

Can't wait to try this, but I have what may be a dumb question -- are the green tomatoes unripe or are they actually ripe tomatoes that are green. :o) Thanks!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Becky--Unripe green tomatoes.

Corrinne said...

This looks amazing! I've made your carnitas recipe many times before and always to great fanfare. I'm making it for my birthday party this weekend. I want to make this sauce to go with it. How far ahead of time can I make this sauce? Could I make it the night before? I ask b/c of the avocados...would they make the sauce turn brown if it was made too far in advance?

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Corrinne--You can make it the night before, but it's best made the day you're going to eat it. I'd add 2 tablespoons of lime juice if you make this the night before.

Amanda Stuckey said...

Oh man--I now live in Boston, but grew up in the Houston area. The original Ninfa's food is what I fantasize about when I miss my Texas cuisine. I am making this sauce as soon as I can get my hands on some tomatillos. Also, if you're into salsa verde, you should try HEB's That Green Sauce next time you're home. It's seriously heavenly and ethereal, it's like salsa crack. I get my mom to send it up to Boston in care packages, then I guzzle it down in a matter of hours.

Dkspears said...

I recently visited Houston for the 2nd time ever. I love the green sauce from El Toro in Baytown. Is this recipe similiar. I have heard all the El Toro's green sauce were different from place to place. All the waiter would tell us was that it had avacados and sour cream. Theirs is also rather runny.

Anonymous said...

Amanda, I didn't like HEB's That Green Sauce, but now I'm wondering if I would have liked it if I added avocado to it. Might try that.

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