Tomatillo and spinach pesto

I am usually not hungry at all in the morning but the other day I woke up hungry! I went to Whole Foods on my way to work to get a yogurt and some fruit for the day. I soon realized this was a bad idea as I got sidetracked by just about everything. I found some fresh peanut butter that looked irrisistable, I spent ages longingly gazing at the various cheeses, a pack of organic Frankfurters made their way in to my basket and in the veg department I saw tomatillos. I have never (knowingly) eaten or cooked with them but I have seen them on TV, mainly food programs from the USA. I just had to get a couple and make something. A basket full and a lot longer than the allocated time later I headed to the till to pay and get going!

Once home I cut a piece and tasted the tomatillo, it was tangy but not too sharp with a citrus flavor and a delicious texture. They are a distant relative of the tomato. I decided to make a pesto with some raw and some baked tomatillo. It is very quick and easy to make.

Tomatillo, chipotle chile, garlic and coriander


Tomatillo and spinach pesto

preparation time 15 mins

cooking time 3 mins

oven 200C or 400F

serves 4


  • 2 tomatillos
  • 1 spring onion
  • 1 bunch of coriander
  • 1 handful of spinach
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 chipotle chilli
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pinch of salt

Peel and chop the garlic cloves about twice. Cut the tomatillo, remove the “stem”


Set aside about 1/3 of the tomatillo and chop the rest roughly. Place the roughly chopped tomatillo and garlic in a bowl with a little oil, salt and pepper. Place on a non stick baking paper and roast in the oven for about 10 minutes or until just browned.

A cut tomatillo 02Feb_TomatilloInside

Whilst the tomatillo and garlic are roasting chop the rest of the tomatillo, slice the spring onion, crush the chipotle chile, rinse the spinach and let dry om a clean kitchen towel, and chop the coriander. Place everything in a blender and add the oven roasted veg on top.


Drizzle over the extra virgin olive oil and blend for about 1 minute, a bit more if necessary. Place in a bowl and serve.


I loved the flavor. I guess it is really some kind of mix between a pesto and a salsa. The citrus flavor really came through and gave it a lovely zesty tang, the smokey chipotle added heat and a depth of flavor, if you see them or if you have a sunny garden spot give them a go, what a find!


I have added this to the always great challenge to cook from scratch, Made with Love Mondays, run and hosted by Javelin Warrior, if you haven’t see his blog have a look and be inspired!


6 Responses to “Tomatillo and spinach pesto”
  1. This pesto sounds delicious! Definitely a nice change from the more traditional pesto 🙂

    • petra08 says:

      hi Ada

      Thank you 🙂 It was really nice and I loved that extra citrus hit. I have just found some tomatillo seeds and will try to grow some this summer 🙂

  2. The Editors of Garden Variety says:

    You know, this is a great idea. Very creative. Thank you so much for sharing the recipe.

    • petra08 says:

      Hello Editors of Garden Variety

      Thank you 🙂 It worked out quite well! I am hoping to cook a lot more with tomatillos, so delicious 🙂

  3. I love tomatillos, especially in salsa, but I’ve never tried them as a pesto. This sounds so good, especially with the addition of the chipotle chile pepper… Very creative, Petra!

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