Saturday, November 15, 2008

Ninfa's Green Salsa

Anyone from Houston, Texas can tell you about Ninfa’s Mexican Restaurant and their remarkable green chip dip. This is no run of the meal salsa; it’s green and creamy with a nice spicy kick. What is it about TexMex, huh? Let me clarify that what I am talking about is different than Mexican food, different from food in Mexico, different from the Mexican food you get in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona or Arkansas. TexMex is a specific breed of Mexican food found in Texas that I could literally eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner…good thing I don’t though, it is rarely the healthy option. This sauce from Ninfas is so great I could literally eat this with a spoon! A week ago I didn’t know the recipe was floating around and then I fell upon the post by Homesick Texan about how much she too loves Nifa’s Green Sauce. Her mother found the recipe printed in the Houston Chronicle; apparently it was the most requested recipe of the Chronicle. Try this dip and you too will understand why this green salsa is in such demand. This recipe makes a lot of dip, upwards of six cups. I can’t say if this recipe will still turn out the same if you half it, my recommendation is to make the recipe as printed and take this to a party, potluck, youth group event where hungry munchkins will eat it up…just be sure to save some for yourself. Okay, let me show you how to make your own green goodness in a bowl.

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 (next time I will add 4 jalapenos)
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 (next time I will add half the sour cream)

Combine chopped tomatoes, tomatillos, jalapenos and garlic in a saucepan.
It’s the end of tomato season, so I was SOL when it came to finding green tomatoes. Instead I took four packages of mixed small tomatoes and rearranged one box to contain all the green and yellow tomatoes.
This looks about like three medium sized tomatoes.

I coarsely chop them and add to saucepan.

Tomatillos are so great. I love that they are wrapped up in a deceptive package.

These are pretty firm. Peel the outer paper off and rinse under water to remove any sticky stuff. I chop these up too and add to saucepan. I wonder how roasting these first would change the flavor of the dip? Maybe I will try that next time, and change the name to Mandy's Green Salsa.

These jalapenos are bad @ss. I always wear gloves because they can really burn your skin and god forbid you pick your nose and your face goes up in flames. Using gloves I rinse these and coarsely chop. No need for perfection here, we are going to puree the heated mixture in a few minutes.

Next time I am going to double the amount of jalapenos in this recipe.

Also add the garlic and then turn the heat on medium high.

There isn’t any liquid yet so I’m going to help it along by using a potato masher and get things going.

Finally this mixture comes to a boil and I reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring often. After 15 minutes remove from heat and let cool slightly.

Let’s prepare the avocados and cilantro. My neighbor Elke taught me how to choose an avocado at the grocery store. If you need to use it right away you want a ripe one. When you press with your thumb, a ripe avocado will give. If it feels really hard, put it back. If it gives easily and feels mushy, put it back. You are going for the firm yet soft avocados that give just a little when you press with your thumb.

To cut an avacado, carefully slice all the way around. Your knife will stop in the center when it hits the pit.

Twist the two sides in opposite directions.

Now the avacado will pull apart easily and cleanly.

With your knife carefully hit the pit so it pierces it a bit and then twist to remove.

Easy Peasy. Is that a phrase? I use it all the time in the kitchen.

Using a spoon scoop out the good stuff and add to cuisinart. Hold on to the core/nut/brain because it helps keep avacado green if you put it back in your salsa or guacamole.

For the cilantro I’m using my new kitchen gadget that Jim bought me for my birthday…the Salad Spinner! I love this thing already. Place cilantro in the strainer and run under water.

Place strainer basket in salad spiner, attach top and press down to spin. The water is drained out the sides and bottom. AWESOME!

Add clean and dry cilantro to cuisinart along with salt.

Pulse for a few seconds to combine.

Now add the tomato mixture and blend until smooth.

This looks really good and smooth.

Next, pour into a bowl and stir in sour cream. This is one thing I would change – less sour cream. In the future I would only add ½ cup of sour cream maybe even ¾ cup if I wanted it creamier.

Serve with everything! This would be a nice sauce with grilled chicken, or a wonderful drizzle on top of enchiladas - or my preference, with a spoon. J/K. Not really.

After I poured myself a (portioned control) small bowl, I added the avocado pits back to the mixing bowl, covered with plastic wrap down on top of the dip to keep air out, then I attached an air tight plastic lid and put in fridge.

As I mentioned in the recipe I only have two small ingredient changes - cut the sour cream by 1/3 maybe 1/2 and add another jalapeno or two because this could really be spicier. Enjoy!


  1. Okay, a couple of things...first and foremost...I use Easy Peasy like all the freakin time...that's too funny. Next, how in the heck did you take that picture of you cutting the avocado? Avocado in one hand, knife in the other...where's the camera??? In your third hand? And when you did the quarter turn of the avocado, I'm LOVING the are sooo amazing and hilarious to boot! Keep up the good work...your blog is AWESOME!!!

  2. Oh and by the way...this recipe looks major YUM-O!!! My family who absolutely dies for this Arizona "mexican food" is going to get a treat next weekend at our family picnic. Tex-Mex is in DA HOUSE!!

  3. Oh. My. Gravy. That looks so good. I claim to love mexican food, but what I think I really love the most is tex-mex. There is such a big difference!! I cannot wait to try this. By the way, I'm making your chicken enchilada dip for my bunco group this week, and I cant wait!

  4. We love Tex-Mex! I could literally live off the stuff. Great job on the photos! I can't wait to make this.

  5. Hi Mandy,
    Couple of things...this dip was awesome! I made it this weekend and it was all the rage. I didn't get a pic of the final result...I want to post it on my blog. Can I use your picture of you holding the sauce on the chip and I will totally give you props for the recipe. Let me know. Thanks!

  6. I worked as a teenager at the Original Ninfas on Navigation in the late 70's, early 80,s. I can still remember them making the green salsa. The aroma was great. Just one of the great Tex-mex food made at Ninfa's. The aromas coming out of the kitchen were outstanding. The best fajitas, Margaritas. I know where I'm going this weekend.


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