Recipes, people, places and things we love — every month. Head to Substack to support our work. Visit  Later

Dressing and sauce recipes

Roasted tomatillos dip sauce

Prep time 15 minutes | Cook time 25 minutes
yields 2 cups

Photography by Tracey Creed
Assisted by Amandine Paniagua
Recipe by Tracey Creed and Amandine Paniagua
Words by Amandine Paniagua

Published June 3 2024


6 tomatillos, husk removed and rinsed
4 garlic cloves
12 onion, roughly sliced
filtered water
1 handful fresh coriander, sliced
1 tsp chilli flakes
salt and pepper, to taste


Preheat your oven to 180°C. Line a tray with baking paper and transfer the tomatillos and garlic cloves. Bake for approximately 20 minutes, until the tomatillos and garlic are softened and starting to brown. Turn over midway for heavenly baking.

After baking, remove the tray from the oven and let cool at room temperature until you can grab the tomatillos with your fingers.

Meanwhile, cook the onion in a small pan on low heat for 5 minutes to remove the raw taste.

Once the content of the tray is cold, remove the garlic husk and transfer all ingredients to a blender, including the juice. Puree until smooth. If you’d like your sauce to be a bit more runny, add tablespoons of cold water one at a time until you achieve your desired consistency.

Add the cooked onion, coriander, chilli flakes, salt, and pepper to taste. Pulse for a few seconds to mix the ingredients.

This tomatillos sauce will keep for up to 3 days refrigerated.

This roasted tomatillo dip sauce is different; it is fresh, spicy, lightly tangy and slightly sweet. The bright flavours of this salsa will uplift any basic meal, from your favourite salad to baked veggies and sandwiches—also to enjoy for itself with tortilla chips. Here, we choose to roast the tomatillos to soften their acid taste. During the process, they tend to open up and release a sweet juice that will caramelise in the oven, adding a depth of flavour to the sauce. Hence, it is essential to scrape the tray when transferring it to the blender to enjoy all the flavours this salsa has to offer. We also love baked garlic, which adds a layer of sweetness to the sauce and makes it more digestible. Mix it with bright, fresh coriander, cooked onion and chilli flakes, and you get yourself an original, exciting salsa dip.

In the last few years, we have enjoyed easy-to-prepare, simple food. The key to this way of nourishing ourselves is to select high-quality produce as much as possible and accompany the meal with a more researched, rich side dish. Pick some rich hummus, a sophisticated lemon/kombucha vinaigrette or an unusual salsa, such as this roasted tomatillo dip sauce, to layer a spicy twist to your food. You can create energising, balanced meals while enjoying scrumptious and non-boring food daily.

What are tomatillos?

From the internet. Tomatillos are a fruit from Central America, from Mexico to the Costa Rica region. Nowadays, they are mainly cultivated in Mexico and Guatemala. Domesticated by pre-Columbian cultures, such as Maya and Aztecs, tomatillos were also exported to India, Australia, Aotearoa, New Zealand, South Africa and Kenya in the 20th century. While tomatillos are perennial fruits, they are usually cultivated as annuals. In Aotearoa, New Zealand, they are available in summer and autumn. Tomatillos are resistant to common plant diseases, making them easy to grow in your personal garden.

Even if their Spanish literal translation means “small tomato”, tomatillos have nothing to do with tomatoes, the latter being part of the Solanum Lycopersicum genus and tomatillos from the Physalis Philadelphica genus. Yes, tomatillos also look like tomatoes, but they have a husk and a thin, sticky texture on their skin, which is to be removed before consumption by rinsing the fruits under running water. Raw tomatillos taste acidic, ideal for green salsa or thinly sliced in salads, yet cooking them will release their sweetness, which we favoured for this roasted tomatillo dip sauce recipe.

Why did we integrate tomatillos into our diet? When we lived in Auckland, we participated in a Community Supported Agriculture program run by Organic Market Auckland, an agroecology market garden in the heart of Tāmaki Makaurau, Auckland. Each year, we paid a quarterly fee to collect a vegetable and herbs box harvested from the garden, which provided us with nutrient-dense fresh food weekly. And so, in the warmer season, we had tomatillos. At first, we weren’t sure what to do with them. They looked like tomatoes but were not at all the same in taste and texture. I put a call out on social media to learn how to prepare tomatillos best, and a few lovely people, including chefs, came back to me with some of their favourite recipes, including our main inspiration here from Rick Bayless. It turned out that our favourite way to enjoy the fruits was to make green salsa.

Dive deeper

© LAGOM 2024, All rights reserved