Green spaghetti 2DSC 6086

Green spaghetti

When looking at a friend’s barbecue menu, I saw that one of the side dishes to accompany her smoked ribs, brisket, and chicken was green spaghetti. “You see it at all South Texas cookouts,” she said about this vibrant dish.

Green spaghetti, as the name implies, is pasta coated with a green sauce. The color comes from the main ingredient, which is roasted poblano chiles. Dairy is also a prime component, with some cooks use cream cheese to bring it all together, while others go with sour cream, milk, or Mexican crema. No two recipes are ever the same.

It’s popular along the border, and seen often at backyard gatherings, church potlucks, and weeknight dinner tables. My friend is from Brownsville, though I have friends from the entire border up to El Paso, who also grew up eating this dish. It’s served in Mexico, too.

Since I’m not from that region of Texas, I didn’t grow up with green spaghetti. This is a shame, as it’s a dish that calls to me. My guess is it appeals to many of us who love the earthy piquant flavor of roasted poblano chiles.

My friend was coy about sharing her exact recipe, which is understandable as she aims to open a barbecue trailer in Austin (it will be called Barbs-B-Q, so keep an eye out for it). Though, she gave me her general method when I asked some questions.

Green spaghetti | Homesick Texan

Craving a quick weeknight dinner, I decided to try my hand at making my own green spaghetti. First, I roasted a couple of poblano chiles along with garlic and jalapeños. While the poblanos were wrapped and resting to make them easier to peel, I boiled water for a pot of spaghetti.

As the pasta cooked, I peeled my chiles then blended them with the garlic and jalapeños, along with sour cream, cilantro, Parmesan cheese, green onions, cilantro, and spices. When the pasta was done, I tossed it with the sauce, plated it, then sprinkled it with more cheese and cilantro. Dinner was served.

The one thing that delights me the most about green spaghetti is how beautiful it looks. The color is stunning. The flavors are also welcome and bright. It’s tangy, creamy, earthy, and savory, and I enjoyed it very much. The fun thing about the dish is that there is no right or wrong way to prepare it.

Green spaghetti | Homesick Texan

It can also be served as a side dish, as they do in South Texas, though it can also be a vegetarian main dish. Adding chicken, shrimp, or black beans would make it an even heartier dish.

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Print
5 from 10 votes

Green spaghetti

Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings 8
Author Lisa Fain

Ingredients

  • 2 poblano chiles
  • 1 or 2 jalapeños
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup cilantro
  • 2 green onions, green part only, chopped
  • ½ cup (4 ounces) sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • Pinch allspice
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Cotija cheese, plus more for serving
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 16 ounces dried spaghetti

Instructions

  • To make the green spaghetti sauce, turn on the broiler and place a rack 5 inches away from the heating element. Line a cast-iron skillet or baking sheet with foil and place the poblano chiles, jalapeño, and garlic on the skillet. Cook under the broiler for 7 minutes, and then remove the skillet from the oven. Remove both the garlic and the jalapeños from the skillet. Turn over the poblano chiles and return the skillet to the oven.
  • Continue to broil the chiles for 7 to 8 more minutes or until nicely charred. After this time, remove the skillet from the oven. Wrap the poblano chiles in the foil and let them steam for 20 minutes.
  • Place the garlic in a blender. Peel the skin from the jalapeños (it’s okay if not all of it comes off the pepper), then cut in half and remove the seeds. Place the jalapeños in the blender. After 20 minutes, peel and seed the poblanos and add them to the blender, too.
  • Also add to the blender the cilantro, green onions, sour cream, cumin, kosher salt, nutmeg, allspice, Parmesan cheese, and lime juice. Blend until smooth, then taste and adjust seasonings.
  • Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt, then cook the spaghetti according to the package directions until done.
  • When the spaghetti is ready, drain and rinse, then return to the pot. Toss with the sauce, then serve warm with Parmesan cheese.

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22 Comments

  1. stephanie says:

    i only learned about green spaghetti recently, when i saw bricia lopez make it on the tastemade channel. her recipe is similar, using a combo of mexican crema and whole milk for the dairy as you mention, and lots of cotija cheese on top at the end. she also adds a couple bay leaves to the pasta water.

    the one thing i didn’t care for – she cooks her sauce after she blends it. after trying it that way first, i thought cooking the salsa didn’t do the recipe any favors. like you, i prefer to simply toss it straight from the blender with the pasta. the last time i made it, i used hatch chiles since they were in season. delicious!

    1. 5 stars
      I just saw your friend’s restaurant listed on Eater’s Top New Restaurants of 2023! I am not in Texas, but I do enjoy reading regional foods & I am the kind of person who looks at menu’s across the country; the world. So when I saw “Green Spaghett” on their menu, I was curious. I am also not surprised my search for “Texas Greeen Spaghetti” took me here into your hands, once again. I can’t wait to try this. I love pobalanos too and thankfully in my area of the US, I have access as well.

      1. Lisa Fain says:

        JFO–Enjoy the green spaghetti! This recipe is a bit different from hers since she also adds cream cheese. Though you can add it to this recipe, too!

  2. 5 stars
    YUM! Time consuming to make but well worth it. It could be spicier for my taste, but that’s probably because I’m using supermarket peppers. I look forward to using super hot homegrown jalapeños next summer.. Meanwhile I will use three or four jalas.

    1. Lisa Fain says:

      Chris–I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  3. I know this is totally different but FYI – my wife ordered a pesto cream sauced linguini dish from a local Italian joint and promptly gave it to me because it was too rich for her taste (perfectly up my alley!). It sat around in the fridge a few days. I reheated it with a bit of half n half, a teaspoon of Better Than Broth (no water added -chicken flavored), and some roasted peeled seeded chopped hot Hatches. Man was it good!

    1. Lisa Fain says:

      Weezy–That does sound good!

  4. 5 stars
    Hey, fellow Texan, long out of state here. I’ve yet to try this version of Espaghetti Verde but am looking forward to it. My sister-in-law in Monterrey, MX is a fantastic cook and has made a baked version of this since before I met her 47 years ago. In fact, we just got back last night from a visit. On Saturday, she made a huge casserole of green spaghetti to accompany brisket and ran out before the last of 11 guests arrived. My versions have never been good enough. I’ll try this for the upcoming family meal. Thanks!

    1. Lisa Fain says:

      Leslie–It goes so well with brisket! Enjoy the recipe!

  5. Love this recipe! Just found a YouTube video on Barbs-B-Q, it show her pan roasting/sauteing whole peeled tomatoes (and other ingredients) as part of this recipe. Then immersion blending it with some of the other ingredients. Then fire roasting the poblano and adding them to a blender….maybe this is the secret ingredients.

    1. Lisa Fain says:

      Tom–She also adds cream cheese!

      1. 5 stars
        Sorry for the incomplete message, got pulled away by work “emergency” and just hit post before I finished or re-read it, LOL. Oh and cream cheese too…that is good to know! The new video on her BBQ restaurant made me remember your recipe and a renewed desire to try this out. You have so many great recipes and they certainly bring back food related memories – driving by the Mrs. Beards Bread and Ranch Style beans factories in Ft. Worth to stopping by the Landry’s restaurant in Kemah after a day of boating, way before the boardwalk or anything else was there. Really enjoy all your recipes and the stories that come with them!

        1. Lisa Fain says:

          Tom–Thank you for the kind words! I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed the recipes. And a trip to Barbs is a must, too!