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A Hodophile’s Hot Stuff - Fire Roasted Salsa

In typical summer fashion, we’re continuing to put the garden’s bounty aside for later. Though it feels to me now like this hot, sticky weather will never end, I know it won’t be long before I’m huddled up in a blanket in front of a fire, and I’ll savor the memory of the garden.

Store-bought salsa has never been a favorite of mine. Some are better than others of course, but unless it’s homemade, it can be pretty boring stuff that needs chips and other ingredients to make it palatable. Make your own and you’ll find any number of uses for it besides topping a corn chip. My favorite is with chicken or fish.

Roma tomatoes are meatiest and great for this application, but the point for me was using what was ready to be picked from my garden.

As far as the peppers go, my jalapenos were already used up and I had a bounty of Serranos and Thai chili peppers, so that’s what I used. If you don’t want this too spicy, use all jalapenos and remove the seeds. But remember that adding the mango really tames the heat.


10-15 fresh jalapeno (or other) chiles

2 small garlic bulbs, broken into cloves, but not peeled

Enough tomatoes to cover a sheet pan

1 bunch chopped fresh cilantro

1 small white onion, chopped fine

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice


olive oil

2 mangoes (or corn kernels!)

Chili powder (optional)*


In a small ungreased skillet over medium heat, roast the chiles and garlic, turning regularly, until they are soft and blotchy brown, about 15 minutes for the chiles, 20 or so minutes for the garlic. Cool until handleable, then pull the stems off the chiles and roughly chop. Peel the skin off the garlic. Scoop into a food processor and pulse until quite finely chopped. (I used my molcajete (mortar and pestle) shown bottom left.

Slice half of the tomatoes in half and place them cut side down on some parchment.

Lightly brush with olive oil and place under the broiler, watching closely, until they blister. You could also use the grill.

For the rest of the tomatoes, half them and gently squeeze the seeds out over the sink. Chop finely. The combination of fresh and roasted tomatoes is more interesting than just one type.

Let the broiled tomatoes cool enough to handle. You should be able to pull the skins right off. Then chop them finely as well.

Chop the mango into small chunks.

Place all ingredients in a large bowl, add the lime then salt to taste.

I have a Trader Joe’s spice blend called Chili Lime that I like a lot, so that was next for me, but it’s not necessary.

Truth be told, another reason for making this salsa is mental: my wanderlust is seriously stymied this year because of COVID. I am absolutely itching to go away. So Lauren and I sat down with this salsa, some tacos and a margarita, and decided to plan the most magical trip to the Riviera Maya. It remains to be seen when (or if) that will ever happen, but I thought that tequila was the order of the day anyway. Maybe it’s the same for you, if you love to travel like I do. Perhaps I should have listed it as a required ingredient.

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