Roasted tomato and tomatillo salsa is one of those amazing condiments that can really make so many dishes really sing. The roasting brings out a slightly smoky flavor and intensity of the ingredients and the mixture of the tomatoes and tomatillos created the perfect balance between sweetness and tartness.
Salsa in Mexican cooking is usually not meant as a condiment to take or leave but a required part of the flavor profile of the dish that it is served with. There are many different varieties of salsa in Mexican cooking for this reason.
Sometimes salsa will already be served right on top of the dish like in huevos rancheros (an egg, salsa and tortilla dish) which uses a salsa called salsa ranchera. This salsa is very similar to the salsa ranchera because both roast the vegetables for extra flavor.
Ingredients you need for this are:
- Serrano chile
- Spanish onion
- Fresh cilantro
- Fresh lime
If you are not familiar with tomatillos, they look like a green tomato but with a husk around them. They are actually not related to tomatoes and are can be rather tart before cooking. Tomatillos are the main ingredient in salsa verde (one of my favorite salsas!)
What if you cannot find some of these ingredients?
Here are some ideas for the ingredients you can substitute and the ones you cannot:
- Tomatillos (if you cannot find these at your grocery store, you can substitute with tomatoes)
- Tomatoes (these you will need since they are the base)
- Serrano chile (if you cannot find serrano chiles, you can use a fresh jalapeno pepper. You want to make sure the pepper you use is fresh since you will roasting it)
- Spanish onion (you can substitute with the same amount of red onion. Do not use vidalia onions or sweet onions though)
- Fresh cilantro (this cannot be substituted for dried cilantro or left out)
- Fresh lime (you can use bottled lime juice. Lemons will not work as a substitute)
- Salt (to taste but in my experience, anything with tomatoes sucks up quite a bit of this 🙂
Why Roast the Ingredients?
Roasting your ingredients before you make the salsa helps bring a slightly smoky umami flavor to the salsa. The longer you roast your ingredients, the stronger this flavor becomes.
I have had some amazing salsa at restaurants that were actually brown in color because it was left to roast to the point of charring on all sides of the vegetables. In this salsa, we char the vegetables just a bit on a really hot griddle surface just until the juices begin to release.
What can I eat with this salsa?
Anything! The easiest answer is chips and salsa. This also goes well with eggs, tacos, burritos, any Mexican dish, beans and rice or along side meat.
If you want a great dish to serve this with than you will love my pulled pork rice bowl for a meat dish or my black beans and rice for a vegetarian option! This will really compliment any savory dish! I love just making a batch of this and keeping in the refrigerator for snacking. It is so good!
There is no wrong way to use this salsa. Once you make it you will see how delicious it is. This recipe makes about 1 regular sized mason jar worth of salsa. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week (if it lasts that long)!
Roasted Tomato and Tomatillo Salsa
- 4 vine ripe tomatoes or 2-3 larger ones
- 2 tomatillos
- 1 serrano pepper
- 1/2 cup cilantro
- 1/2 spanish onion Outside skin removed and cut in half. reserve the other half of the onion for another dish.
- 1 fresh lime or 3 tbsp of lime juice
- 1 tbsp salt plus more to taste
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- Pre-heat a large griddle or cast iron pan on your stove top or grill to high heat
- While your griddle is pre-heating, clean your vegetables and remove the husks from the tomatillos (these are not edible). Clean off any sticky residue from your tomatillos as well.
- Once your griddle or pan is nice and hot, brush a little vegetable oil evenly across it, just to coat the metal.
- Now add your tomatoes, tomatillos, onion and serrano pepper to your hot pan and let them cook for about 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, turn them to cook the other side.
- Keep rotating the vegetables every 10 minutes until you see charring on all sides and they begin to soften and about 30 minutes has passed. You will hear popping and sizzling during the cooking.
- Remove from the heat and let cool for about 15 minutes.
- In a blender, add your charred vegetables and the lime, cilantro and salt.
- Pulse for 3 seconds at a time on medium speed until it is a a medium consistency (a little chunky but no large bits). You can also adjust the consistency at this point to your liking. If you like a thicker salsa, pulse for less time.
- Taste for salt. Tomatoes absorb salt so you may need to add more to taste.
- Once done, pour into a container and refrigerate for 2 hours if you like a chilled salsa. Alternately, you can eat it at room temperature right away!
- Serve with chips or along side your favorite savory dish.