Ninfa’s Green Sauce (Bonus Recipe Hack)

Full disclosure: I’ve spent some time in Houston but I’ve never been to Ninfa’s. I’m not even sure I’m pronouncing the name properly. Is it NIN-fahz? NEEN-fahz? neen-FAHZ? However you say it, though, I now want to eat there desperately because if this sauce is a sign of what they have to offer… Well, let’s just say that it’s all bound to be spectacular.

The truth is, I had neither heard of the aforementioned place, however it’s pronounced, nor the recipe I’m about to give you until I saw this post by Lisa Fain of Homesick Texan, whose blog I have loved for a very long time. This is one of those recipes where -while reading it- you know exactly how it will taste and you know you want it. Badly. Now.

And so, after seeing this recipe a little over two years ago, I made it a mere year and a half later for the first time. Sigh. It’s really hard to source certain ingredients around here. Avocados, cilantro, sour cream, jalapenos? Oh sure. Easy peasy. It’s those green tomatoes that gave me fits. First of all, when I had green tomatoes on the vine this summer I was so busy I didn’t know whether I was coming or going and forgot ALL ABOUT THE DADBURNED RECIPE. Pardon me while I go bang my head on the wall for a minute or two. Secondly, when I remembered the recipe there were no green tomatoes (or yellow as the recipes suggests substituting) anywhere within a two hour drive.

Well, shoot.

I’m resourceful? Why was I letting this lack of green tomatoes stop me? (Because I wasn’t thinking, that’s why.) I had an entire shelf full of green tomato salsa verde I had made over the summer staring me in the face. Big, fat duh! I hacked the recipe. While the original called for 3 green tomatoes, I simply substituted 2 cups of homemade green tomato salsa verde* and a splash of water, then proceeded as directed with the rest of the recipe. Well, except for that whole Greek yogurt vs. sour cream thing… but I’ll get there momentarily.

*You can’t find green or yellow tomatoes and don’t have homemade green tomato salsa verde on the shelf? No problemo. Use an equivalent amount of store bought salsa verde in its place. Yes, most commercially available salsa verde is made with tomatillos, but that’s certainly not going to hurt the overall affect here! Live boldly! Substitute!

Speaking of substitutes, I decided to sub in a cup and a half of the zero fat Greek yogurt I had snapped up on clearance at Aldi last week. I’m not a no-fat/low-fat proponent by any means, but cheap is cheap and this stuff is good anyway with no weird preservatives or flavour improvers. Heck yes. Go Team Frugal! It worked like a charm! I mean, why wouldn’t it? What took me so long to think of the recipe hack? Yeesh.

This sauce. Let me tell you. It is smooth. It’s so smooth it’s smoove. It’s velvety, it’s rich (thank you, avocados), it’s spicy, it’s creamy, it’s garlicky. I ate it on tacos, Fritos, on a spoon, on my finger… So darned good. Mama. I considered rubbing it on the pulse points as perfume. Hubba hubba. I know my husband would approve.

Here’s another bonus. You know avocado’s distressing tendency to brown after being cut/smashed/whatevered? It doesn’t in this sauce or at least it does it at a far slower rate. My amateur food scientist theory is that the happy bacteria in the Greek yogurt (and I’d imagine the same could be said for sour cream) and the acid in the tomatillos/green tomatoes keep it from oxidizing. But that’s just a theory. And who cares? The sauce is good. And pretty. And pretty good. Geez. It’s better than good. It’s great. It’s habit forming.

Now what are you waiting for? You need this sauce. You need it tonight. You need it for the weekend! Go forth and create green sauce!

Ninfa’s Green Sauce
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This creamy, dreamy, spicy, garlicky, smooth-as-silk avocado salsa is simply magical. Use as a sauce or dunk to your heart's content. Recipe originally from the Houston Chronicle via Homesick Texan and recipe hack by yours truly!
Serves: about 5 cups
  • 3 medium green or yellow tomatoes, coarsely chopped (Or 2 cups green tomato salsa verde or commercially available salsa verde with about ½ cup of water.)
  • 4 tomatillos, peeled of the paper husk, rinsed and coarsely chopped
  • 1 to 2 jalapenos, stemmed and chopped (if using the salsa verde, also remove the jalapeno seeds.)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 3 ripe avocados, halved, pitted, and scooped from the shells with a spoon
  • 4 stems worth of cilantro
  • 1 tsp. of salt
  • 1½ cups of sour cream (or Greek yogurt, which is my preference.)
  1. Add the green or yellow tomatoes (or the salsa verde and water) to a heavy-bottomed saucepan along with the tomatillos, jalapenos, and garlic. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the tomatillos are tender. Remove the pan from the burner and let the mixture cool for about 15 minutes.
  2. Transfer the contents of the pan into a food processor or blender with a metal blade. Add the avocados, cilantro and salt and blend until completely smooth. Use a rubber or silicone spatula to scrape the sauce from the food processor or blender into a mixing bowl and whisk in the sour cream or Greek yogurt until evenly coloured. Serve immediately or store in a jar or other container with a tightly fitting lid for up to a 4 days.


  1. says

    Rebecca, I really enjoy coming by and reading your blog- you’re a HOOT! This recipe you shared sounds great (I’m a hummus girl, too). Love tangy, garlicky dips as they add a lot of zest to so much stuff and can be a great spread. Come to think of it, this would probably even make a great ‘thick’ dressing if thinned out a bit more, too. Thanks!

      • Meaghan B says

        I’ve done this before and thinned it with buttermilk. It’s amazing.

        I make a no sour cream slightly modified version of this and it’s a favorite dip for nearly everyone. (Add green onions, more garlic, a little salt, lots more cilantro, omit tomatoes and sour cream, add lime juice.)

  2. raenze says

    THank You for Sharing the ingredients. I hope that my family would be first to taste this. I feel excited to try this one.

  3. karla says

    Yummy! I love spicy sauce and this is a perfect partner for my favorite chips. I will surely try this one. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  4. Marsha says

    As another homesick Texan (and native Houstonian), I can tell you that Ninfa’s original location on Navigation is a must for any visitor. I remember many an evening standing in line outside waiting to be seated (this was before the days of pagers). Great tacos al carbon, too!

  5. Houstonian says

    Are you sure this really calls for green tomatoes, not tomatillos? They aren’t the same and Salsa verde usually calls for tomatillos— although I doubt you can buy them north of San Antonio.

    • says

      Oh, I’m certain! Lisa from Homesick Texan used a Houston Chronicle recipe and that called for both green tomatoes and tomatillos. And mercifully, I have a marvelous grocery store chain within a reasonable distance (an hour-ish) where they carry tomatillos all the live-long year. God Bless ’em.

  6. Tracy says

    I agree that it needs both green tomatos and tomatillos. I’ve made this exact recipe before. WAY WAY too much sour cream. I actually only added one cup of sour cream and it was way too much. Had to make more of the other ingredients to balance it out. I’ll make again but add only 1/4 cup of sour cream at a time to find the right taste.

  7. Aunt B says

    It is prounouced NEEN-Fahz. If you are ever again in Houston and want to try Mama Ninfa’s wonderful food; be certain to go to the Original Ninfa’s on Navigation to get the “full experience.” Personally, I think the food is better there, too. It is very good at all Ninfa’s locations; but, for some reason it is the best at the Original Restaurant… I’m just sayin….

  8. Cindy says

    This is pretty close to the Guacamole dip I grew up eating. Mashed avacados and salsa verde….yumm. I will be trying this for sure!

  9. kathi says

    I am from Texas and lived in Houston for ages. And, yes, I was a Ninfamaniac! I was there when the first Ninfa’s opened on Navigation Ave in way down Houston, then when all the others opened and have had many a dip of that great green goodness! I was so sad when all the Ninfa’s were sold but alas, Houston has no lack of good TexMex spots.
    So, now I am in Florida and was recently reading some old Texas cookbooks and ran across Ninfas green sauce so am making it as I type. I like to know that substitutions work in a pinch, but as a purist – I’m sticking to Momma Ninfa’s original plan:)

  10. Jacqui says

    I made this and it is AWESOME!!! I used the bottled Salsa Verde because I could not find the green or yellow tomatoes. We used it as a dip with restaurant style tortilla chips and also used it as a sauce on our homemade enchiladas. Thanks for sharing. OLE!!!

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