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Pipian Sauce


The start of tomato season is almost upon us. While we wait, another member of the tomato family, the tart green tomatillo, prized in Mexican cuisine, starts to appear in markets.

Tomatillos are a tart, green fruit that resemble tomatoes but are very lemony and brightly flavored. Often overlooked, this sprightly member of the nightshade family is too puckery to eat raw, but adds a piquant citrus flavor when toasted. I love this creamy sauce with its earthy, nutty flavor. I serve Pipian, or green mole, with roasted or BBQ chicken, roasted fish, grilled vegetables and my kids favorite, chicken schnitzel. The vibrant color and flavor wake up the plainest piece of chicken or fish. Tomatillos are in season during the summer months. The sauce can be made and stored, covered, in the refrigerator for three days or frozen for one month.

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  • 3 pounds tomatillos (about 8 medium tomatillos), husked and rinsed
  • 1 small red onion cut in half
  • 3 cloves of garlic, do not remove from the skin
  • 1/3 cup shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 avocados, pitted
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce (optional)


  1. Place the tomatillos, onion halves and garlic in a medium sauté pan. Heat the ingredients over high heat until the vegetables start to toast and blacken. Turn the vegetables to toast on all sides.
  2. Remove the vegetables as they turn black. Transfer the toasted vegetables to a blender or food processor.
  3. Toast the pumpkin seeds in the same pan over medium high heat. The seeds will start to pop. Continue toasting until the seeds are light golden brown (about 2 minutes). Transfer the seeds to the blender.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients to the blender and process until creamy and fairly smooth. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
  5. Serve the sauce over chicken, fish or grilled vegetables.


The sauce can be made and stored, covered, in the refrigerator for 3 days or frozen for 1 month.

Contributed by:LAURA FRANKEL