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Tomatillo and tomato salsa w/guajillo pepper

May 6, 2014


It’s Cinco de Mayo weekend, with a  festival celebration going on near my neighborhood. They will be having food booths selling traditional Tex-Mex fare including gorditas, tacos,  chalupas, enchiladas. Usually someone will be offering refrescos, the fruit juices Mexico is famous for.  Typical salsas on hand are salsa verdes, ranchero, some kind of chipotle, pico de gallo. I didn’t attend this year,  but to keep in the spirit of the holiday, I’m making this salsa that combines the tartness of the tomatillo with the mellower tasting, slightly sweet tomato. The beautiful rustic flavor of guajillo peppers gives it a distinctive taste more reminiscent of Mexico than Texas.


This will make about 2 quarts of salsa. Halve the recipe if needed.

3 pounds tomatillos

1 pound ripe tomatoes

25 dried guajillo peppers

12 medium peeled garlic cloves

1 medium onion (about 10 ounces)

salt to taste (salsas generally take well to salt, so be generous)


Place the tomatillos on a lightly oiled baking pan.  Set the tomatillos about 6-8 inches from your oven  broiler that has been set to high.  Let them go for about 10 to 15 minutes.  They should start to get blotchy or slightly charring. If not, let them keep going.  Turn them over with some metal tongs to lightly char the other side.  There is no need to completely blacken them. Also, do not let them overcook to where they disintegrate.  Be sure to save whatever juice comes out. Remove and let cool. Do the same with the tomatoes.  Let them cool as well when done.

While the tomatillos are broiling, you can start pan roasting the onion and garlic.  Set an iron skillet, a comal, or heavy sauce pan over medium heat. Slice the onion into 1/4 inch rings, separate them and cook them on the skillet(no oil necessary). Turn them from time to time to cook evenly.  They should soften and char  in some places. Remove and let cool.  Cook the garlic cloves on the skillet until you get dark brown or black spots.  The garlic should also soften up a bit.

Remove the stems from the guajillo chiles and shake to remove the seeds.  One by one, place them on the hot skillet and press down with a metal spatula to lightly toast.  The chile will get a little blistery and  turn a lighter color. Do not overcook or they will become bitter.  You can tell its ready when a light wisp of smoke emanates from the chile. Turn the chile over and repeat with the other side.

Place the tomatillos and tomatoes in a blender and puree.  Add the pan roasted onions and garlic and continue.  Crumble up the toasted guajllo peppers and add several at a time until all the ingredients pureed.  You may use the tomatillo and tomato liquid that might have resulted from broiling to adjust the consistency.  Pour the salsa into a serving bowl and season well with salt.

This salsa is not very spicy.  In fact you might be disappointed.  If so add a fiery pepper or two to the blend like serrano, jalapeno, chile de arbol,  pequin.  You can experiment and add or substitute with other chiles like chipotle, ancho, or pasilla peppers.  I just wanted to highlight the flavor of the guajillo.

May I also suggest adding a teaspoon or so to taste of apple cider vinegar to brighten up the salsa a bit.

I’m going to take this to Fiesta Friday hosted by The Novice Gardener and see what great food some of my blogger buddies have to offer.




16 Comments leave one →
  1. May 6, 2014 3:22 am

    That is a beautiful salsa! Wonderful photographs too. I used to use dried chiles more when I lived in Texas. They are not as easy to find in Virginia or South Carolina.

    • May 6, 2014 4:07 am

      Thank you! I love the color and flavor of this salsa…Maybe you should mail order some dried chiles if you can’t find some. Lately I’ve been seeing other kinds of dried peppers available like pulla and two types of chipotle (not in adobo).

  2. May 6, 2014 3:31 am

    My kind of salsa, Gerard. I have such a supply of guajillo peppers! I made red mole yesterday for a tamale pie. Was so GOOD!

  3. May 6, 2014 11:13 am

    Good to see you Gerard! What a great liking salsa. I am so impressed that you charred and broiled everything. Must be a smoky flavor.

    • May 6, 2014 7:27 pm

      Hi Sonal! It’s well worth the extra effort to broil or pan roast everything. It also brings out some sweetness in everything. Thank you for liking!

      • May 7, 2014 2:16 am

        I agrees with you, especially garlic and onions :). Keep blogging dear friend.. I wait for your posts… :).

    • May 7, 2014 2:52 am

      Yes especially garlic and onions! I always look forward to your posts, it always looks delicious and there is always something new to learn about the food you make.

  4. May 6, 2014 11:22 am

    What a gorgeous colour for the salsa! It will take some effort to find all the ingredients near me, but your photos make me want to try! Great salsa to bring to Fiesta Friday! 🙂

    • May 6, 2014 7:38 pm

      Hi! Yes, the color is mostly from the guajillo chile. The kitchen takes on a great aroma as you’re toasting them on the skillet. Thank you for the nice comments!

  5. May 6, 2014 7:37 pm

    When in Houston several years ago I really wish now that I had’ve bought and tried tomatillos. As there’s no chance of finding them over here in the UK. Well, certainly not where I now live. And I’m loving that you’ve either grilled and/or pan-fried the ingredients as that’s going to bring out their individual flavours.

    • May 6, 2014 8:05 pm

      Thanks for stopping by! I think the closest thing to a tomatillo would be a green tomato which is very often breaded and pan or deep fried in the U.S. They are still very far apart in flavor…Pan roasting the onion and garlic does bring out a different level of flavor than when sautéing.

  6. Marcella Rousseau permalink
    May 9, 2014 7:34 pm

    As always, beautiful job!

    • May 10, 2014 12:29 am

      Thank you, I appreciate that! Even though it uses 25 chiles, as far as spiciness goes, it’s really a mellow tasting salsa.


  1. Fiesta Friday #14 and Fiesta Friday Challenge #1 | The Novice Gardener

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