Deborah Schneider's Salsa Quemada-Famous Fridays
Salsa Quemada

TGIF!!! Boy do we ever need a relaxing holiday weekend--seems like we've been going full speed ahead without any breaks and some of us are going to break down if we don't take a break!! It's time to force certain people around here to sit back with a bag of chips and salsa and do absolutely nothing. And speaking of salsa (clever segue, huh?) you've got to try this amazing roasted tomato and tomatillo salsa courtesy of acclaimed chef, restaurant owner and Mexican cookbook author, Deborah Schneider, my Famous Friday honoree for this week. If you're looking to make your Memorial Day weekend more lively and fun, a little chip-dunking into this salsa will definitely put you on the right track. It's WOW worthy!

When it comes to cooking Mexican food which I don't do that often, outside of the basics like tacos, fajitas and quesadillas, I'm a bit of a scaredy-cat. Like I've known about tomatillos for ages but never had the courage to actually use them in a recipe. That's why I particularly like Deborah's cookbooks because she explains, generally with full color pictures, all about ingredients that are a little more exotic and unusual to us Northerners and makes them more accessible and user-friendly. In Salsas and Moles, an entire book devoted to all different sorts of sauces ranging from ordinary table salsas to mole and enchilada varieties (there's even a chapter on hot salsas for those with daring tastebuds) she also has several pages that describe the various sorts of chiles, from jalapeño to serrano to habanero to hatch and more, something I found extremely helpful because I often find myself at the store faced with all the different varieties and don't really know the differences between them.

Deborah calls this a dry roasted salsa because you literally do just that--dry roast the tomatoes, tomatillos, chiles and garlic cloves on top of a piece of tin foil in a heavy weight pan set over high heat.  When the veggies get charred, they add a nice smoky flavor to the finished salsa that really sets this apart!

Plus it's so easy to make--once the veggies are cooked you just puree them with onions and cilantro or parsley and voila, instant homemade salsa that will beat the jarred kind every time. My newly-home-from-college-middle guy and my husband both really adored this and it will definitely be making a return appearance at our Memorial Day barbecue this weekend! So if salsas and other foods Mexican are up your alley, definitely check out Deborah's cookbooks and visit her website at And have a great, yummy and safe Memorial Day with family and friends! See you next week with a whole slew of summer-time treats!! Can't believe we're almost into June!!

Deborah Schneider's Salsa Quemada-Famous Fridays

Makes about 3 cups
You will need a food processor for this.
Prep Time:  20-30 minutes


  • 6 medium tomatillos, husked, washed and dried
  • 3 medium ripe Roma tomatoes or 6 plum tomatoes, washed and dried
  • 2 large cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 1 serrano or jalapeno chile with stem
  • 1/4 white onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro or parsley, minced
  • Tortilla chips for serving (optional)

The Recipe

1.  If you have a fan over your stove or in the kitchen, turn it on. Line a large cast-iron skillet or heavy-weight pan with a piece of aluminum foil and place it on the burner. Turn the heat up high and place the tomatillos, tomatoes, garlic and chile on top of the foil. Let the veggies cook until softened and charred, without moving too much. They won't all be done at the same time. The garlic will most likely be first. Once it's softened, remove it from the pan with tongs and set it aside to cool. The chile will probably be next and once it's charred on all sides and softened, remove it too from the pan and set it aside. Let the tomatoes and tomatillos cook until bubbling and charred all over. You'll notice that they start to slump over and then they're done. Carefully grasp the ends of the foil and remove it from the pan with the tomatoes and tomatillos in it. Let them cool till you can handle them.

2.  Transfer the tomatoes and tomatillos to the bowl of the food processor, along with any accumulated juices or blackened bits. Peel the garlic and toss it in. Cut the stem off the chile and add it too, along with the onion and salt. Pulse until well combined and almost smooth--it's good if it's a bit chunky. Add the cilantro or parsley, pulse briefly, taste for salt and serve or chill until ready.

3.  The salsa keeps for at least a week in an airtight container in the refrigerator.


Note:  Recipe adapted from Salsas and Moles by Deborah Schneider. I subbed in plum tomatoes because I couldn't find Roma and I only used 1 chile instead of 2 to keep it not overly spicy. I also used parsley instead of cilantro because I don't like it, but if you're a cilantro lover, go ahead and use it instead.

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