Pasta with Green Sauce (Salsa Verde)
Roasted tomatillos and poblano peppers combine with onion, garlic, lime juice, and fresh cilantro to make a light green sauce for angel hair pasta.
Loaded with bright fresh flavors and a touch of heat, this easy, Mexican-inspired pasta dish makes a nice choice for a simple, vegetarian dinner.
Broiled poblano peppers and tomatillos, combine with sautéed onion and garlic, fresh-squeezed lime juice, and a handful of cilantro to make a light sauce for tossing with angel hair pasta.
The poblanos add mild heat and a rich, green pepper flavor that works well with the citrusy flavors of the tomatillos and lime, and the herbaceous qualities of the fresh cilantro.
Angel hair pasta is our favorite choice to pair with this light, fresh-flavored sauce. It cooks up quickly, and because it’s so thin, the sauce is easily distributed throughout the dish so every bite is loaded with flavor.
Once plated, each serving is topped with a dollop of sour cream, which contrasts with the heat and acidity in the sauce to create a perfect blend of pungent flavors.
Key Ingredients for Pasta With Green Sauce
In addition to the angel hair, some pantry items, and common ingredients like scallions, limes, cilantro, and sour cream, you’ll need two very specific ingredients to make salsa verde:
- Poblano peppers
What are Poblano Peppers?
Poblano peppers are very dark green chiles with a rather flat, triangular shape. They grow to be about 4-inches long, have a lively green pepper flavor and relatively mild heat. Dried poblanos are called ancho chiles.
The peak season for poblanos is in late summer and early fall. When shopping, look for shiny skin free of soft spots and blemishes.
Poblanos are used in a variety of dishes but they’re probably best known as the pepper used in Chiles Rellenos, a popular Mexican restaurant dish of fried, cheese-stuffed peppers served with spicy tomato sauce.
What are Tomatillos?
Tomatillos are members of the tomato family and a popular ingredient in Mexican and Southwestern cuisines. They resemble small green tomatoes, but they are much firmer and covered by a thin papery husk.
Tomatillos have a mild citrus and herb flavor and can be served raw in salads and salsas. Cooking intensifies their flavor and softens the flesh and skin, which is why we generally opt to roast or broil them before using.
When shopping for tomatillos, look for firm, unblemished fruits with intact husks. Husks that have loosened from the fruit are not necessarily bad, just be sure to check the firmness and appearance of the tomatillo underneath.
Tomatillos have a longer shelf life than tomatoes and can be stored in a paper bag in your refrigerator’s crisper for up to two weeks.
More Poblano and Tomatillo Recipes:
- Chicken, Poblano and Corn Quesadillas
- Cheesy Chicken Nachos with Roasted Salsa Verde
- Baked Chicken Flautas with Chunky Tomatillo Sauce
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Pasta with Green Sauce
- 8 ounces angel hair pasta
- 2 poblano peppers, halved lengthwise
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 lb tomatillos, peeled and quartered (about 6 medium)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Juice of 1 lime
- 2 scallions, chopped
- 4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 4 tablespoons sour cream
- 4 lime wedges, optional
- Position a rack about 6 inches from the top of the oven, preheat the broiler, and put a large pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta.
- Cover a broiler pan with aluminum foil, coat lightly with nonstick spray, and arrange the poblanos, skin side up in a single layer.
- Broil until patches of the skin begin to blister and blacken, 5 to 10 minutes.
- Remove the peppers from the oven, fold the edges of the foil up to form a sealed pouch and set aside for 10 to 15 minutes. This will steam the peppers and make it easier to remove the skin.
- While the peppers cool, arrange the quartered tomatillos on the broiler pan. Season with salt and pepper, broil until softened, 4 to 5 minutes, then set aside to cool.
- While you’re preparing the poblanos and tomatillos, heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and add the onion.
- Sauté until soft and translucent, 4 to 5 minutes, then add the garlic, season lightly with salt and pepper, and continue cooking until fragrant, 2 minutes longer. Remove from the heat.
- Once the poblanos are cool enough to handle, use your fingers to peel off as much of the skin as possible, then rough chop them and place in the work bowl of a food processor.
- Add the roasted tomatillos and the onion-garlic mixture (including the olive oil) and process to a salsa-like consistency. Transfer to a bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Cook and drain the pasta according to package directions, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid for the sauce.
- Stir the reserved liquid, lime juice, and chopped scallions into the sauce.
- Pour about half of the sauce over the pasta, add the cilantro and toss to combine.
- To serve, plate individual servings of pasta and divide the remaining sauce over the top.
- Top with a tablespoon of sour cream, garnish with lime wedges and serve immediately.