Homemade Salsa Two Ways: Salsa Verde Crudo and Salsa Roja

These easy homemade salsas are so much more delicious than the jarred variety! In this post I will show you how to make salsa verde crudo, which is a raw tomatillo-based salsa, as well as a salsa roja (red salsa) made with jarred fire roasted tomatoes and poblano and jalapeño peppers.

I have been a salsa fanatic for as long as I can remember. Growing up in the Southwest, every Mexican restaurant provided free chips and salsa with your meal. I would devour the chips and salsa to the extent that, more often than not, I wouldn’t have any more room left once the entree came. Because I love it so much, I take my salsa making seriously. A bland salsa is a crime I would not dare commit. A good salsa should be a complex, but balanced mix of spice, heat, and acidity. This salsa verde crudo and salsa roja really deliver on all fronts.

Homemade Salsa Two Ways: Salsa Verde Crudo and Salsa Roja

The tomatillo salsa is super simple to make because there is no cooking involved. The ingredients are blitzed in the food processor until smooth – that’s it! Traditionally, salsa verde crudo is not made with avocado and is served with meat as a condiment rather than with chips. In my version, I add some avocado to balance some of the acidity and tang of the tomatillos as well as adding some creaminess. The punch of flavor in this salsa verde crudo is really mouthwatering and super addicting.

The salsa roja involves a bit more steps than the salsa verde because the poblano and jalapeño are roasted until the skins are black. The pepper skins are then peeled off, after which the peppers are added to the food processor with the other ingredients and blended until the desired texture is reached. You can make the salsa chunkier or smoother according to your preference. Poblano peppers have a lot of flavor but not too much heat, so they bring a lot of flavor without making it too hot so all your guests can enjoy it. Also, the seeds of the peppers are added to taste, making the heat level customizable; you can make it as hot or mild as you like. Cumin is another critical to seasoning this salsa – just a quarter of a teaspoon is enough to add cumin-y flavor without overpowering the other ingredients. This really is the perfect, quintessential red salsa with a bit of pizazz.

Both salsas will keep for up to a week in the fridge. They can also be frozen for longer-term storage.

Homemade Salsa Two Ways: Salsa Verde Crudo and Salsa Roja

Salsa Verde Crudo

Servings: Makes about 2.5 cups

Time: less than 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb. tomatillos, peeled
  • 1/2 a large or 1 small avocado
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup of chopped cilantro, packed
  • 1 medium jalapeño, seeds and veins removed and set aside
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp. of salt (or to taste; I use smoked sea salt)
  • 1/4 cup of white onion, diced and rinsed under cold water to remove some bite

How-to:

  1. Rinse peeled tomatillos under hot water, rubbing each one well to remove the sticky outer coating which has a bitter flavor. 
  2. Put your rinsed tomatillos and all other ingredients but salt and jalapeño veins and seeds into a food processor and blend until completely smooth. 
  3. Taste and add seeds and veins of jalapeño to achieve desired heat level.
  4. Add salt to taste. I think about a tsp. of smoked sea salt is perfect. Salt types vary in sodium level, so add a quarter tsp. at a time until desired level is reached. 

Salsa Roja

Servings: Makes about 2.5 cups

Time: about 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 15 ounce can of diced fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 poblano
  • 1 medium jalapeño
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup of white onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro, packed
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 1/2 tsp. of sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. of cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. of ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. of salt (or to taste; I used smoked sea salt)

How-to:

  1. Heat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Place poblano and jalapeño peppers on a sheet pan and roast until skin is blackened on all sides, about 15 minutes, flipping half way through. 
  3. Remove peppers from oven and place in a bowl. Cover to allow steam to build, which makes it easier to peel peppers. 
  4. When peppers cool enough to touch, peel off the papery, blackened outer skin and remove stems and seeds. Stems and skin can be discarded. Do NOT discard seeds; Keep seeds to add to taste to increase the heat level of salsa. 
  5. Add roasted, peeled peppers, fire roasted tomatoes, and lime juice to a food processor and blend until completely smooth. Add all other ingredients and pulse until desired texture is reached. I blended mine down, but you can also pulse just a few times to keep it more chunky.
  6. Taste and add seeds of poblano and jalapeño to increase heat level as desired. 
  7. Add salt to taste. I think about a tsp. of smoked sea salt is perfect. Salt types vary in sodium level, so add a quarter tsp. at a time until desired level is reached. 

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