Homemade Salsas, A Mexican Tradition

Texas history and Mexican history are deeply entwined, but Mexican culinary traditions are so much richer than Tex-Mex!

Mexican cuisine is as varied as the country’s landscape, with flavors ranging from the moles of Oaxaca, to the tacos and barbacoa of the Central Plains, to the fresh seafood specialties on the Pacific and Gulf coasts. One thing you’ll find in every region of Mexico is salsas. These, too, are much more varied than the jarred products sold at grocery stores in the US. Made fresh, using techniques like fire roasting and hand blending in a molcajete, a volcanic-stone mortar and pestle, authentic Mexican salsas (“sauces”) bring accent or contrast to the flavors of other dishes.

SFC Farmers’ Market Vendor, Ricardo Cruz from El Cruz Ranch & Cafe, recently taught a Mexican Salsas class with us in our Teaching Kitchen. Using ingredients he grew on his ranch, Ricardo shared a few of his family’s salsa recipes and explained the history of how the recipe came into being. Below is one of the recipes from his class. You can taste Rick’s family recipes at his food trailer on Wednesdays at the SFC Farmers’ Market at the Triangle.


Fire-roasted Salsa By Ricardo Cruz

“Fire roasted salsa for us came out of a way to make hard skinned peppers (poblanos) and green tomatoes easier to peel. We would burn the skins off the peppers hold them to steam for a minute or so in a bag to soften up the rest of skin and remove it easier. Growing up, we had a very poor neighbor who would cook all her meals on an open flame. She would make fire roasted salsa and it would be in almost all meals. I don't remember them having a refrigerator back then, so salsa was served hot. Later, Mom would make the same salsa with less heat for Dad; the salsa was used as a drizzle over the chile relleno.” - Ricardo Cruz


  • 2 lbs tomatoes
  • 1/2 head garlic
  • 5 peppers (jalapeño or serrano)
  • Pinch salt
  • Pinch ground black pepper
  • Lime or lemon juice
  • ½ Avocado
  • Herbs to taste

Halve and deseed tomatoes, then place cut-side down on a foil-lined baking tray under a broiler for 15-20 minutes or until skins are blackened.

Toast peppers and unpeeled garlic the same way (under the broiler) or over an open flame on your stovetop.

Place blackened peppers in a paper bag for 15 minutes to soften the skins.

Peel garlic and remove ends from peppers.

Remove the peel and pit of the avocado and place in a blender with tomatoes, peppers, and garlic. Add salt, pepper, and lime juice and blend well.

Add herbs to taste as well.

Serve warm or chill in the fridge and serve cold.