Salsa Roja (Red Sauce) 20.000

Stacy Zarin Goldberg for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post

May 2, 2018

We love the versatility of a well-made red salsa. Because the vegetables in this rendition from Pati Jinich are boiled until tender and then cooked down, it tastes great even when you use store-bought, not-quite-in-season tomatoes.

The directions here result in a smooth, relatively thin sauce; if you prefer a chunkier consistency for dipping, don’t puree it completely. For a thicker sauce, cook it longer, which will reduce the liquid and intensify the flavor. We are using an immersion (stick) blender for convenience, but a blender or food processor works just as well.

Serve with tortilla chips or as a sauce for enchiladas and chilaquiles.

Click here to see step-by-step photos and a video for this recipe.

Make Ahead: The salsa can be covered and refrigerated for up to 5 days.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 20 servings; makes 5 cups

  • 2 pounds vine-ripened, ripe tomatoes (not too large; no need to peel)
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed but not seeded
  • 2 cloves garlic (skin-on)
  • 2 ounces white or yellow onion, cut into small chunks (about 1/4 medium onion)
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt, or more as needed
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth, preferably no-salt-added
  • 1 lime, cut in half

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Combine the tomatoes, jalapeño and garlic in a medium saucepan. Add enough water to cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium; cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the tomatoes are tender enough to pierce easily with a knife.

Use a slotted spoon or skimmer to remove the solids from the saucepan so you can drain off the cooking water; you can also do this by placing a pot lid on top, leaving it just enough ajar so the water can be drained into the sink. Return the tomatoes, jalapeño and garlic (slip off the skin from the cloves at this point) to the saucepan and add the onion, salt and black pepper.

Use an immersion (stick) blender to puree until completely smooth. Pour the salsa into a large bowl; wipe out the pan. Alternatively, you can puree the mixture in a blender or food processor.

Heat the oil in that same saucepan over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, carefully pour in the pureed tomato mixture (it will sizzle), cover partially and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, then pour in the broth and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until slightly thickened.

Squeeze in half the lime juice. Taste and add more salt and/or lime juice, as needed.

The salsa is ready to use, or you can transfer it to a container, cover and refrigerate for up to 5 days.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from “Mexican Today: New and Rediscovered Recipes for Contemporary Kitchens,” by Pati Jinich (Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016).

Tested by Becky Krystal.

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