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Charring the tomatoes and vegetables plays up their sweetness and adds smoky, bitter notes. This goes great with quesadillas, grilled snapper, and pork.
- 1 cup (packed) cilantro leaves with tender stems
Prepare a grill for high heat. Grill tomatoes, onion, and chiles, turning occasionally, until lightly charred and fragrant, about 4 minutes for chiles and 6–8 minutes for tomatoes and onion. Transfer to a plate and let cool.
Purée tomatoes, onion, chiles, garlic, and cilantro in a blender until mostly smooth and only small pieces remain; season with salt.
Do Ahead: Salsa can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill.
Nutritional ContentPer 8 servings; 6 Tbsp each: Calories (kcal) 20 Fat (g) 0 Saturated Fat (g) 0 Cholesterol (mg) 0 Carbohydrates (g) 4 Dietary Fiber (g) 1 Total Sugars (g) 2 Protein (g) 1 Sodium (mg) 0Reviews Section
Thick circles of toasted Salvadorian flat bread are stuffed with rich melted cheese. They’re delicious all by themselves, but even better when dipped in a simple thin red salsa. Pupusas with salsa roja are an El Salvadorian classic dish that’s easy to make, and akin to the American combination of grilled cheese & tomato soup.
Grilled cheese is one of the quintessential comfort foods.
Even better? It’s one of those things that’s just as good, no matter how old you get, that’s just as comforting in its original, unaltered form ( just like Mama made it) or growing with you into more ‘gourmet’ versions.
And we’ve run the gauntlet, bringing you all different varieties- especially these Pupusas with Salsa Roja.
We’re not the only country who’s on top of their grilled cheese game. Far from it.
Today we bring you pupusas, straight from the streets of El Salvador.
These traditional Salvadorian ‘grilled cheese’ consist of a thick, handmade corn tortilla that’s typically filled with a blend of meat and/or cheeses.
But, of course, we’re focusing on the cheeses. And it may sound hard to replicate, but it’s surprisingly easy, and affordable.
They do take a teensy bit of work, but they’re well worth the time.
They’re a perfect snack, or main meal. Or you could go the traditional route and enjoy these savory ‘pancakes’ for breakfast.
Even better? Dip it in a fresh bowl of salsa roja, a seasoned tomato sauce that resembles a runnier cold version of tomato soup, but with kick butt flavors.
So, let’s recap, Pupusas are cheap and cheerful, exceptionally hearty, stuffed and griddled disks of corn tortilla oozing, gooey cheese induced euphoria that originated in El Salvador.
Don’t be daunted, they’re quite simple to make and assemble.
We’ve provided step by step instructions below, plus a few pictures of the key steps in case a visual reference makes it seem more do-able.
Salsa Roja, Raw Salsa Verde, Grilled Salsa.
Toast dried peppers in cast iron skillet. Soak in water for 30 minutes. Roast the garlic and tomatoes until black in spots. Let cool and peel, add to blender. Toast cumin and oregano in cast iron skillet, use whole seeds if possible and grind after toasting, if not you can still toast ground cumin. Throw spices in blender. Drain liquid from dried peepers and throw in blender. Add salt, sugar and vinegar to blender. Blend until very smooth. Strain it through a mesh strainer.
4 tomatillos 2 serranos 4 garlic cloves ½ white onion 1 tsp honey 2 tsp salt ½ cup cilantro leaves
Rinse tomatillos. Stem serranos. Rough chop everything. Add everything except the cilantro to a blender and pulse until combined but not smooth. Stir in cilantro.
4 romas 1 white onion 3 jalapenos 9 cloves garlic peeled ¼ cup olive oil 1 lime worth of juice Salt to taste
Fire up the grill. Stem peppers and core tomatoes. ¼ the white onion. Throw everything on the grill until slightly charred. Garlic is way faster than everyone else. Peel the jalapenos. Throw it all in the blender with juice from the lime and olive oil. Pulse until combined and chunky.
How to Make Salsa Roja
Start by removing the stems off of 10 – 12 red chile pods (I usually use Bueno, since that’s what they have at most stores in Abq, but I’ve also used Barker’s, which I’ve linked to here, since they sell it on Amazon).
Add peppers to a large pot along with 4 cups of water. Place on the stove and bring to a gentle boil. Continue boiling for 15 minutes, until pods start to soften.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cut 4 tomatoes in half, peel and half an onion, and peel 4 cloves of garlic. Place on a baking sheet then toss with a tablespoon of olive oil, then season with salt and pepper.
Roast veggies in preheated oven for 10 – 15 minutes, until they start to brown and soften.
When chile pods are done, transfer to a blender. Add in 1.5 cups of the water you boiled the pods in, then add in the tomatoes, onion, and garlic.
Blend all ingredients for 60 seconds.
Place a sieve over a large bowl, then pour the blended chile mixture into the sieve. Use a spoon, if necessary, to squeeze through the liquid, while leaving the peels.
Once you’ve extracted all of the liquid, discard the peels and season the Salsa Roja with salt and pepper, to taste. Add a dash of apple cider vinegar, then stir well.
Grilled Skirt Steak Tacos with Roja Salsa
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the olive oil and saute the garlic, onions and peppers until soft and lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Add the chili powder, and some salt and pepper and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the diced tomatoes with their juices and 1/2 cup water and simmer on low for 10 minutes. Season the mixture with a big pinch of salt and healthy grind of black pepper. Let cool.
Add the cooled tomato mixture and the lime juice into a food processor or blender and pulse a few times, keeping some of the texture. Remove and reserve 1/2 cup of the salsa for serving. Add the remaining salsa to a 13-by-9-inch casserole dish. Add the skirt steak and flip to make sure it’s well coated. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 1 hour, or up to 8.
Preheat a grill to medium-high heat. Take the steak out of the refrigerator and bring to room temperature while the grill is heating.
Once the grill is hot and ready, remove the steak from the salsa marinade and shake off any excess. Grill for 4 minutes on each side for medium. Rest for 10 minutes. Wrap the corn tortillas in aluminum foil and heat on the grill until warm and soft.
To serve, slice the steak into 4-inch sections, and then slice into 1/4-inch-thick slices across the grain. Serve the sliced steak in the warm corn tortillas, topped with the reserved salsa and Guacamole.
For kid’s taco toppings: Cut the steak into smaller bite-size pieces. In place of the salsa, top the tacos with chopped Roma tomatoes or purchase a mild store bought red salsa. Top kid’s tacos with shredded Cheddar, sour cream and shredded iceberg lettuce.
Pit and peel the avocados. Place the avocados in a bowl and mash with the lime juice, onions, sour cream and a big pinch of salt and pepper. Fold in the tomatoes and serve.
Salsa roja, meaning red sauce &ndash as opposed to salsa verde or green sauce &ndash is a popular Mexican sauce.
It is used to make most dishes in traditional Mexican foods such as enchiladas, huevos rancheros, tacos, and quesadillas. You can even use it as a base for Mexican Rice and Arroz Rojo
There are a few ways to make this classic sauce.
One way is to make &ldquosalsa cruda&rdquo or raw sauce.
To do this you cut up the tomatoes, onion, garlic, and chili and blended into a slightly chunky sauce.
Or, you can just chop the vegetables into fine pieces to make the sauce. This version is the least popular of the three.
Next is salsa asada or a roasted sauce.
For this sauce you first roast the tomatoes, onions, and chills.
Then you add them to a blender along with the garlic and blend it into a smooth sauce.
When you&rsquore done add salt to taste and it is ready to serve.
Lastly, there is salsa cocida or cooked sauce which is the recipe given here.
You make it by blending together the tomatoes, onion, garlic, and chilies.
Then you pour the mixture into a pot and cook it until it turns from a greenish pink to red.
Grilled Chicken-Wild Rice Burrito with Salsa Roja
Minnesota’s wild rice dresses up plump burritos. The burritos are served on a plate of Salsa Roja. Note that the salsa is made with vegetables which are charcoal-broiled, then chopped. The blackened bits add a smoky depth to the sauce. Make the sauce ahead of time to simplify last-minute preparation. The chicken breasts could be grilled on the same fire after the vegetables are finished, giving them a smoky flavor as well.
- Unsalted Butter - 2 tablespoons
- Yellow Onion - 1 medium, diced
- Garlic Cloves - 4, minced
- Portobello Mushrooms - 6 ounces, sliced
- Red Bell Peppers - 2, roasted, peeled, seeded, and diced
- Poblano Peppers - 2, roasted, peeled, seeded, and diced
- Wild Rice - 1 cup, cooked until tender (yields 4 cups)
- Fresh Marjoram - 2 tablespoons, coarsely chopped
- Asiago Cheese - 2 ounces, grated
- Monterey Jack cheese - 2 ounces, grated
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Flour tortillas - four, 12-inch
- Zest of 1 orange
- Unsalted Butter - 2 tablespoons
- Chicken Breasts - four, 4-ounce, grilled
- Clarified Butter - 2 tablespoons
- Salsa Roja (recipe follows)
- Cilantro Sprigs - 4
- Salsa Roja
- Ripe Tomatoes - 6
- 1 white onion - 1 large
- Jalapeno Peppers - 2
- Garlic Cloves - 4
- Freshly squeezed lime juice - 1/2 cup
- Cilantro - 1 bunch, stemmed
- Salt - 2 teaspoons
- Freshly ground pepper - 1 teaspoon
- Chipotl Chile in Adobo Sauce - 1
To prepare the burritos: Heat the 2 tablespoons of butter in a large saute pan or skillet over medium-high heat and saute the onions until they are translucent, about 1 minute. Add the garlic, mushrooms, and peppers and saute until the mushrooms soften, about 1 more minute. Put the wild rice, marjoram, and cheeses in a bowl, add the cooked vegetables, and toss to mix. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Spread the tortillas on a work surface. Evenly divide the wild rice mixture among the tortillas. Mix the orange zest and remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, then distribute it over the rice mixture. Slice the chicken breasts on the bias into small slices. Evenly distribute the chicken pieces over the tortillas. Roll up each tortilla, jelly-roll fashion, to form burritos. Brush each burrito with clarified butter. Place on a baking sheet and bake 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown. Remove and let rest for 3 minutes. Cut each burrito into 5 slices.
To serve: Spoon Salsa Roja over each serving plate. Stand 5 burrito slices on end in a circle on each plate. Place a sprig of cilantro in the center of each circle.
To make the salsa: Light a charcoal fire. When the coals are hot, grill the tomatoes, onions, and jalapenos until the vegetables are slightly blackened. In a food processor, pulse all ingredients until the salsa is fairly coarse. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Salsa de Molcajete
Crushing certain veggies will release additional flavors and oils that tend to keep quiet when lightly chopped. It has something to do with certain enzymes being released under X amount of pressure, but the science isn’t nearly as important as the whoa-what-is-this flavor. It really is worth trying a Salsa de Molcajete at least once in your life with minimal effort you can create vibrant salsas that will blow away the store-bought equivalent.
To try and persuade you even further, it’s worth mentioning that the apex of civilization (Amazon) makes it really easy to obtain an old-fashioned bowl and club.
This is a granite molcajete that might not be as exotic looking as those made with volcanic materials, but it does what is asked of it and it only costs 15 bucks. Which is kind of amazing considering that it should last for a few generations.
If you’re starting with a new molcajete it’s worth curing it before using it for the first time. Some molcajetes will have a bit of grit escape into your concoction the first time you use them.
Grinding up some uncooked rice with a splash of water should dislodge any potential grit or sediment from the surface of the mortar. If you see substantial grit in the rice mixture then rinse it out and do it again.
This particular mortar didn’t need much curing as there was no visible sediment escaping, but keep in mind that this will vary.
Anyways, once you’ve taken that step you shouldn’t have to do it again and you can move on to more exciting things like Roasted Tomato Jalapeno Salsa.
This salsa already tastes great when it’s made conventionally, but when you add in some grinding of the onion and capsaicin it results in an explosion of flavor that might convert your kitchen into a molcajete showroom.
Here’s all you need to get started:
1 garlic clove
pinch of salt
Start by roasting the tomatoes. Sure, you can roast them on a skillet or even on a grill, but I usually just put them in the oven at 400F for 20-25 minutes. This seems easiest to me but you are welcome to roast them as you see fit.
However, what is not debatable is bringing the weight of the world down upon the veggies. Finely chop the 1/2 onion, 1/2 jalapeno, and single garlic clove and add them to the molcajete along with a pinch of salt. Use the pestle to grind and twist them into a pulpy delight. (You can start with 1/4 jalapeno if you want a milder version.)
You might notice more aroma than usual being released from the onions. That’s the science in action!
Once roasted, add the tomatoes to the molcajete.
If they are properly roasted they’ll be soft and will quickly disintegrate with a bit of muscle applied. If you have skins floating around you are welcome to remove them, but it won’t affect the flavor too much either way.
And now the best part…take a taste!
Most likely you’ve got a flavor explosion on your hands and you’re already thinking about what a salsa verde will taste like in your favorite new kitchen device. (See here for a salsa verde molcajete style.)
You can also add a final pinch of salt here if you think it needs it.
There’s one other benefit of molcajetes that companies should advertise a bit more. Serving up your homemade salsa in the molcajete itself will complete the time travel back to a few thousand years ago, and your friends and family will be forever grateful for the journey.
You can use the comments section below if you have any questions on your mind. It really is worth trying at least once in your life to see how much of a difference you notice compared to conventionally made salsas.
Bandeja paisa is a popular dish typical of Colombian cuisine. It consists of a multitude of different preparations making it very colorful and appetizing.
Antioqueño beans are found there, they are dry red beans, usually of the bola roja variety, cooked with pig’s trotters, green plantain, carrot, cumin, cilantro and a mixture of two different sauces. The first is salsa de aliños which consists of red and green peppers, onions, garlic and saffron. The other sauce is salsa hogao, of Colombian Creole origin made with tomatoes, onions and garlic.
In addition to beans, bandeja paisa contains white rice, boiled beef, called carne molida, usually shank or brisket, flavored with onions, garlic and cumin. Once cooked, the meat is shredded and reduced to a kind of mince.
We also add chorizo cocido, morcilla (local black pudding), avocados, fried plantains, fried eggs, chicharrón, that is to say, long-boiled, dried pork breast or skin, which is then fried in oil to make it extremely crispy.
Finally, bandeja paisa is served with arepa, white corn buns that can be filled with ham, cheese, meat, beans or eggs. They are typical of Colombian or Venezuelan cuisine. The amount of butter they contain makes them very soft and delicious.
The whole dish is certainly hearty but also very fragrant and full of flavor. Bandeja paisa is usually served on a very large plate or directly on a platter. Colombian bandeja can also be flavored with mazamorra, an atole-like drink, and panela molida.
What is the origin of bandeja paisa?
Bandeja paisa is typical of the regions of Antioquia, Caldas, Eje Cafetero as well as north of the Cauca Valley and north of Tolima. The dish appeared in the 1950s and quickly became popular in Colombia.
The word, paisa, refers to the region of the same name, while bandeja means “plateau” in Spanish. The origins of the bandeja could be quite varied since it contains indigenous influences from Colombia but also Spanish, African, British and French.
Bandeja could also have developed in restaurants in Medellin and Bogota from another dish, the seco already made with rice, beans, meat, plantain and accompanied by arepa.
In 2005, the Colombian government wanted to make bandeja paisa its national dish by changing its name to bandeja montañera (Mountain Plateau). The proposal was met with rejection by many Colombians for whom the dish was not representative of the diet of the entire country. For them, bandeja paisa is exclusively consumed in certain regions. Today it is ajiaco that is often considered the official dish of Colombia.
How to prepare bandeja paisa
The preparation must imperatively begin with the preparation of chicharrón, beans and carne molida because these three preparations are the longest.
Once the beans are soaked, simply cook them with pieces of pig’s trotters which will give a creamy consistency to the sauce. During cooking, add the vegetables, salsa de aliños and cumin, before adding the hogao salsa and cilantro.
Once the beans are tender, simply remove the pig’s trotters, remove the bones and cut the meat into small pieces. The whole should be well tied and tasty.
Carne molida looks like stew, it is a piece of meat boiled for a long time in water after marinating it with cumin, onions and garlic. Once the meat is tender, it is chopped to a sort of mince.
The broth, once defatted and clarified, can be used for making soup, for example. Rice can be steamed or pilaf or simply cooked in water. The chorizo is cooked in water while the blood sausages and eggs are pan-fried. Plantains should be fried in oil just like chicharrón to make them crispy.
Arepas can be made very quickly by mixing together flour, salt and water. Then add melted butter and work the dough until it is no longer sticky. It is then enough to form round and flat pancakes and to cook them in the butter for a few minutes.
Bandeja paisa is presented on a large round or oval tray or in large plates that can hold all the elements. Raw avocado is added to the various elements, which will bring a lot of freshness to the dish.
What are the variations?
This large blend of preparations is reminiscent of other dishes such as an English mixed grill, French cassoulet, Brazilian feijoada or Cuban moros y cristianos.
In the Antioquia region, some restaurants add grilled beef steak, pork chops, or grilled liver to the bandeja paisa. You can also find lighter versions, such as in Bogota where chicken breast replaces the pork. You can also replace the blood sausage or chorizo with a simple fresh salad.
Homemade Spicy Salsa Roja
I must be on a spicy food kick. Maybe it has to do with spending the last 5 months in Minnesota where their idea of spicy food is pepperjack cheese. Oooh that’s spicy! Well, as I promised in my last post, (Grilled Chorizo and Vegetables Foil Pack), I’ll show you how I make homemade spicy salsa roja.
A lot of the recipes for salsa roja use roasted tomatoes and peppers. I’m not a big fan of the roasted taste, although it certainly imparts it’s own unique flavors. I go for the natural goodness and simplicity of plain, fresh ingredients. And this also makes it so easy prepare this salsa ingredients and a couple spices. That’s it!
You can also make this as spicy or as mild as you like. The salsa I made to have with the grilled chorizo and vegetables was made with one jalapeno pepper. It was just kind of Minnesota spicy. Oooh that’s spicy! The salsa I made today to have with chips had one jalapeno pepper and one small habanero pepper. Now this salsa will get your attention, although it is certainly not the hottest.
The Scoville heat unit scale is how peppers and chilis are rated. The jalapeno pepper is between 1000 and 4000 Scoville units. The habanero chili is 100,000 to 350,000 Scoville units. So the habanero has about 100 times the heat of a jalapeno pepper. You can try different chili peppers for this, but here’s a warning…if the pepper you use is called Komodo Dragon or scorpion or viper or ghost, you may want to be careful. Also the name Naga…I think it means, “Grab an ice cold carton of milk and throw it on my head.” Don’t quote me on that one, I’m really not sure. But I am sure, if your pepper is called “Death Strain”, I think I would avoid it.
So make your own homemade spicy salsa roja, and use whatever heat you are comfortable with. It’s easy to prepare and so good to eat! Have it as a topping for veggies or plain as a dip. You will love it either way.