Fire-Roasted Tomato Salsa (Salsa de Molcajete)

Traditionally, salsa roja de molcajete is made by dry-roasting tomatoes, jalapeños, and garlic in a comal or cast iron skillet, and then grinding everything together with a big stone molcajete mortar and pestle. However, you can just as easily make it at home in a food processor or blender, using canned fire-roasted tomatoes. Depending on how hot your chiles are, this salsa can be rather spicy, so if you prefer a milder salsa, seed the roasted jalapeños before chopping them. This recipe makes about 1 1/2 cups of salsa.


  • 1 to 2 fresh jalapeño chiles
  • 3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice, preferably fire-roasted
  • 1/4 cup (loosely packed) chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Salt


In a small ungreased skillet over medium heat, roast the chiles and garlic, turning regularly, until they are soft and blotchy brown, about 10-15 minutes. When the garlic’s papery outer skin starts to brown, remove the garlic from the pan and carefully peel it, discarding the skin. Continue roasting jalapeños until soft and blackened on all sides. Transfer to a plate to cool. When cool enough to handle, pull the stems off the chiles and roughly chop (jalapeños can be spicy and leave their heat on your hands, so wear gloves or use caution when handling.) Scoop roasted garlic and peppers into a food processor or blender and pulse until finely chopped into a smooth paste, then add the tomatoes with their juice. Re-cover and pulse until you have a coarse purée. Scrape into a serving dish. Stir in the cilantro and lime juice. Taste and season with salt (usually about 1/2 teaspoon), and serve.