The best salsa, the kind you get at the restaurants, is made with roasted ingredients and only takes a few minutes of hands-on time. It’s one of the easiest things you can make in the world, but in the middle of a summer heat wave even fresh salsa can’t induce me to turn on the oven.
Luckily, this salsa gets all of its flavor OUTSIDE, on the grill! It really is so easy that anyone you can trust with a grill can make it—rinse the veggies, chop a couple, throw them on the grill, then blend. These delicious salsas are done in just 20 minutes, half of which is hands-off time. And this recipe actually makes not just ONE but TWO (!!) salsas, a smoky restaurant-style roja and a tangy tomatillo-style verde. Try these spicy salsas with chips, quesadillas, carne asada—you can even mix them with some thinned sour cream for a fresh and spicy salad dressing.
You will need:
- 7 roma tomatoes
- 7 tomatillos
- 1 white onion
- 2 serrano peppers
- 1 jalapeno pepper
- 1 Anaheim pepper
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 bunch cilantro
- 1 lime
- A few tablespoons of oil
Fire up your grill to medium-high before you start chopping. It needs a few minutes to heat up, and that’s all you’ll need to prep the veggies.
Peel and wash the tomatillos, then wash the tomato and peppers. Cut the tomatillos and tomatoes in half and cut the onions into large wedges (about 6 of them). Leave the garlic cloves in their skins. Toss everything but the cilantro and lime in a bowl with a bit of olive oil.
Pop it all on the grill (skin sides down for the tomatoes and tomatillos) and set a timer for 8 minutes. You may need 10-12 minutes to get the veggies good and charred, but the timing depends on the heat of your grill, so it’s better safe than sorry. I left mine on for about 12 and probably could have pulled them off a few minutes before that. Feel free to flip the peppers halfway through, although I didn’t.
The veggies are done when they’re pretty deeply browned. Honestly, my grill was pretty smoking hot, and my veggies got blackish, about a step away from legit burnt, and they were still fine. This recipe is NEARLY idiot-proof!
When you take your produce off the grill, use two bowls. In one bowl, put the tomatoes, 1/2 of the onion, serrano peppers, and 2 cloves of garlic. The remaining tomatillos, jalapeno, Anaheim pepper, onion, and garlic go into the other bowl.
Give the veggies a few seconds to cool, then slip the skins off of the garlic. If you want your salsa milder, pull the peppers out, slit them in half, remove the seeds, then put them back in their respective bowls. You can de-seed all or a couple of the peppers, depending on how hot you’d like it. When you de-seed all of them, the salsas are fairly mild. If you keep all the seeds in, it’s pretty freaking spicy.
You can blend these immediately OR you can wait a few minutes for them to cool. If you wait for them to cool, your cilantro will stay greener. If you’re like me and you don’t care, just keep going.
Toss the first bowl of veggies (and all the accumulated juices) into your blender. Squeeze half of the lime on top and add a teaspoon of kosher salt and a handful of cilantro (the leaves and stems). Blend for a few seconds, until everything is combined, and the cilantro is evenly distributed. Your tomato salsa is done!
Rinse the blender cup and put the other bowl of veggies and juice into the blender. Squeeze the other half of the lime into your cup, then add a large handful of cilantro and a teaspoon of kosher salt. Blend it up. Your salsa verde is done!
Taste the salsas and add more lime juice and/or salt if needed. These salsas are best if they have an hour or so to cool and let the flavors meld– the smoke really comes out later. They’ll keep in the fridge for a week or so, if you can manage not to eat them before then!