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A friend taught me his family recipe for salsa roja de molcajete, or tomato salsa made in a traditional stone mortar and pestle. I’ve adapted it so it can be made without the mortar and pestle. Roasting the chile and tomatoes in a skillet brings out the authentic earthy flavors, even without the traditional tool.

From The Forks Over Knives Plan

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  • 1 (2-inch) piece dried red chile, any hot variety
  • 6 ripe plum tomatoes
  • 2 (½-inch-thick) onion wedges
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro


  1. Place the dried chile in a skillet and cook over high heat, turning once, for 1 to 2 minutes, until it puffs up or gets some dark spots. Be careful not to burn the chile, or it will be bitter. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool.
  2. Place the whole tomatoes in the skillet and roast over medium heat. Turn them periodically as they get charred, and roast until almost the entire surface is charred, about 10 minutes. Remove the tomatoes from the skillet and set aside to cool.
  3. Place 2 of the tomatoes in a blender, along with the roasted chile, onions, garlic, and salt to taste. Blend into a smooth sauce. Add the remaining tomatoes and pulse so that the salsa is well blended but still chunky. Stir in the cilantro. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
  4. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and chill until ready to serve. Enjoy with oil-free tortilla chips. (For longer storage, transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.)

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(5 from 2 votes)
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Tasty Salsa12 months ago
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I turned tasteless tomatoes into a really tasty salsa! The onion instruction is a bit confusing. The web version says to use 2 (½-inch-thick) onion wedges whereas the app instruction says 1/2 small onion cut into 2 wedges, 1/2” thick. I used a 1/2 small onion cut in quarters.

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about the author

Darshana Thacker Wendel

Darshana Thacker Wendel is a vegan chef specializing in whole-food, plant-based cuisine. A graduate of the Natural Gourmet Institute, she is the author of the Forks Over Knives: Flavor! cookbook, recipe author for the book Forks Over Knives Family, and recipe contributor to The New York Times best-selling book The Forks Over Knives Plan. Her recipes have been published in The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook, Forks Over Knives magazine, and LA Yoga magazine online. Visit for more.

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