My Once a Year Salsa Recipe

Here we have my Once a Year Salsa Recipe. Why only once a year? Cause it’s dangerously crazy freakout good. I dunno about you, but I can’t spend my life on a salsa bender. It also happens that the best tomatoes and chiles are only in season once a year. It’s a win-win situation; I am able to keep my dignity and I get to collect a whole bunch of the pretty rainbowed nightshades. Take advantage of the end of summer friends, treat yourself (and maybe some friends?) to the best salsa ever. 

My One a Year Salsa Recipe -
My One a Year Salsa Recipe

I was kidding about the friend thing. Eat it all. Alone. No shame, it’s only once a year. Think of all the potassium you will absorb into your little cells! 

Unless you have an awesome grocery store that sells fresh, local, and organic tomatoes, don’t even bother going to an actual indoor store. Get yourself to bonafide farmers’ market. Look for the folks selling the really cool looking multicolored tomatoes. Get some heirloom, some hybrid. I go nuts and buy a bunch of each color and variety. Multicolored works for the chile peppers too, get in varying heat levels in as many colors as possible. The only item that will probably need to be purchased at the grocery store are limes. Unless you are lucky enough to have local limes. Stop bragging. 

My One a Year Salsa Recipe -
A rainbow of vegetables.

The best salsa is made in layers and it includes both raw and roasted tomatoes as well as chiles. Here are my recommendations for which tomatoes to roast and which to leave raw. Yellow, orange, brownish, and green (Not an unripe green tomato. Many varieties of heirlooms are green when fully ripe.) should all remain raw. All red, pink and burgundy-greenish tomatoes go into the roasted pile. Get a least a few Roma tomatoes as they roast down really well. As for the chile peppers, I like to keep a purple bell pepper and one hot chile pepper raw. The rest, I roast. Little kitchen tip: Don’t throw away your skins. Keep the roasted tomato and chile skins for making your next batch of broth. Just toss them in with your freezer scraps. (You’d better be keeping those veggie scraps!

My One a Year Salsa Recipe -
All this stuff stays raw. And the limes. Duh.

I also want to mention that this salsa tastes best the next day after the flavors have been given a chance to get friendly with each other. Please re-taste it the next day to make your final seasoning adjustments. Maybe it needs a bit more lime or more salt? You would be amazed at what a little more salt can do. Do not under-estimate the power of salt.

A few kitchen items that will make your salsa making experience smoother:


I feel weird telling y’all how to use salsa, but since this recipe will yield about 5 cups of salsa, I will give you a few suggestions. Around here we like it on our eggs (huevos rancheros, hard boiled, omelets, etc), with gluten-free chips*, on our homemade “burrito bowls”, on steamed fish/shellfish, mixed with cold potatoes, on loaded baked potatoes, used to make ceviche (with lots more citrus added), on soup or chili, mixed into meatloaf, or eaten straight out of the bowl by the spoonful.

My One a Year Salsa Recipe -
My roasted chiles ready to peel
My One a Year Salsa Recipe -
Roasted tomatoes. Keep those juices

I told you. I got salsa problems. 

*A few brands of gluten free chips we have tried and liked: 

  • Plantain chips (Perfect Health Diet and Paleo approved) 
  • Organic multi grain chips (contains corn and a few other non-gluten grains. No bueno for strict Paleo folks.)
  • And then there are cassava chips, which I haven’t tried yet. Totally Paleo/PHD. If you’ve tried them, let me know how they are. I tried them! They are very tasty and they work very well with salsa.


2015 UPDATE: Jackson Honest makes coconut oil fried corn chips. I haven’t seen them on Amazon yet, but you can order directly from their site or demand that your local grocery carry them. 



My One a Year Salsa Recipe -
The finished salsa ready to be devoured.


My Once a Year Salsa Recipe
The best salsa ever uses a mix of roasted and fresh tomatoes as well as chiles. All the best stuff comes in layers. Yields 5 cups.
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  1. 6 pounds of multicolored tomatoes. At least one each of yellow, orange, green and brown. The rest any shade of red, burgundy, or pink. Include a few Roma tomatoes.
  2. 2 bell peppers. One purple (or orange) and one green.
  3. 1 sweet chile pepper (Cubanelle)
  4. 2 mild chile pepper (Pablano and Anheim)
  5. 2 hot chile peppers (jalapeño and serrano)
  6. 1 small red onion
  7. Handful of fresh cilantro
  8. 2-3 teaspoons grated fresh garlic
  9. zest of 2 organic limes
  10. juice of 2.5 organic limes
  11. salt to taste
Roast Your Tomatoes and Chiles
  1. Tomatoes will take longer than chiles. Do them on separate roasting pans. Heat oven to 450 degrees and arrange all red, pink, and burgundy tomatoes on a silpat covered roasting pan. Roast until skins are charred and tomatoes release lots of syrupy juice. Turn at least once and do not throw out any of the tomato juices. To roast chiles, lay on silpat covered roasting pan and roast until skin is blistered and darkened. Turn at least once. Once roasted, remove from oven and cover to allow the chiles to sweat. Leave covered until cooled.
To Make Salsa
  1. Layer One -- Chop all raw tomatoes: yellow, orange, green, and brown roughly and place in a deep mixing bowl. Be sure to scrape the juices into the mixing bowl, too.
  2. Layer Two -- Pour the juices from roasting the tomatoes into your bowl, then remove skins and cores from cooled roasted tomatoes. You will be left with a thick paste that you can lightly chop and add to mixing bowl.
  3. Layer Three -- Chop purple bell pepper, serrano pepper, and red onion and add to mixing bowl. Feel free to remove the seeds from the serrano pepper if you want to reduce the spiciness a bit.
  4. Layer Four -- Remove skins and seeds* from roasted chile peppers. Roughly dice them and add to bowl.
  5. Layer Five -- Finely chop cilantro and add to bowl with grated garlic, lime zest. Lastly, add the lime juice. Mix everything throughly.
  6. Taste and add salt. Adjust as needed. Cover and refrigerate. Allow flavors to mingle overnight and then re-taste and add salt or a little more lime juice as needed. A little more salt can make a big difference.
  1. * Feel free to leave some of the seeds from the roasted jalapeño and Anaheim chiles.
nutrients, you fools!

How do you like to use your salsa? Be a pal and let everyone know in comments.

6 comments on My Once a Year Salsa Recipe

  1. Hey Sarah, looks super yummy! I have a ton of tomatoes right now from my garden and from the CSA we belong to so I will definitely be making this in a day or two. Question, have you ever tried to freeze it? I’m thinking it might make everything too watery, but I’d LOVE to be eating this in the winter!

    1. Hey Lindsay, Thank you so much! I’ve never tried freezing it, I think if anything, canning would be the best option for long term storage. Let me know if you try it cause I will learn the crap out of canning if need be. :)

  2. This recipe looks amazing. I make a similar salsa, and am in much agreement about having a “salsa problem,” hah! I wanted to share this recipe with you, because it has a BRILLIANT suggestion for peeling roasted peppers. It basically says that instead of peeling the skins off under running water (which I usually do), peel them in a bowl of water (OR STOCK!) and then USE the liquid! Seems right up your alley. I love your blog, can’t wait to try your cilantro chicken soup and THIS salsa! p.s. are you from Texas?

    1. Hey Brandy,
      Thank you! I get sad when I see it though, cause I want summer back. OMG thank you for the tip! That’s awesome. Perfect for enchilada sauce. I love Serious Eats, such a great blog. I’m from Arizona. So that would explain my nightshade addiction. You from Texas?

      ps- don’t you love that burning sensation you get in your fingertips after a massive chile peeling session? I never wear gloves.

      Thanks again, hope you heart the soup and salsa!


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