Our roasted salsa made in a Mexican lava rock molcajete is a huge favorite in our home. It’s super simple to make, and serving the salsa in the molcajete bowl makes for an impressive presentation.
The roasting process adds a great depth of flavor and mild smokiness to the salsa as well.
Don’t worry if you don’t have a molcajete. This salsa can also be made using a blender or food processor. The flavor won’t be exactly the same, but delicious nonetheless.
Ok, what the heck is a molcajete?
A molcajete and tejolote are a form of mortar and pestle traditionally used in Mexico. The bowl is typically made from a single block of basalt, and has a rough, porous texture that makes an excellent grinding/crushing surface.
Molcajetes have been used for several thousand years, including in the Aztec and Mayan cultures. You can think of them as the original cuisinart of this area of the world.
Because the surface of the bowl is so porous, the molcajete should be treated like a good cast iron skillet. It needs to be “seasoned” before being used, and the flavors from the last few dishes come forward into the next dishes made into the bowl.
Some chefs insist that the grinding process imparts some of the minerals from the bowl into your recipe as well, setting salsas made this ancient way slightly apart from those using modern appliances.
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You can, of course, prepare this salsa in a mortar instead, or even in a blender – but be careful not to overblend. This dish is meant to be rustic and chunky.
Molcajete Roasted Salsa
This roasted tomato salsa is made in a tradition molcajete (Mexican lava stone mortar and pestle), which imparts additional flavor while preserving the chunky consistency of the salsa.
- 5 Roma tomatoes
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 jalapeño*
- 1 red onion
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1 teaspoon (6 g) salt
- 1 teaspoon (6 g) ground cumin
- 1 handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
- On a barbecue grill or unoiled pan on the stovetop, grill the tomatoes, garlic, jalapeño, and onion, until the skin of all the vegetables is at least 2/3 blackened.
- Remove from grill and allow to cool.
- Roughly chop the roasted vegetables.
- Add the onion, garlic, lime juice, cumin and salt to the molcajete.
- Using the tejolote, grind the ingredients in the molcajete, using a crushing motion to release the flavors from the vegetables.
- Add the tomatoes and jalapeno, and continue to blend and grind.
- When the mixture has reached the consistency you like (we like our salsa to be a little chunky, but you can mix longer for a smoother texture), add the cilantro and mix thoroughly.
- Serve directly in the molcajete with tortilla chips.
*Jalapeños can vary significantly in their level of heat. We recommend adding just a portion of the jalapeño at a time to get the desired spiciness. If you don't like the heat, also remove the seeds where the spiciness is concentrated.
Amount Per Serving Calories 24Total Fat 0gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 0gCholesterol 0mgSodium 361mgCarbohydrates 5gFiber 1gSugar 2gProtein 1g
Enjoy this recipe? Browse out some of our other favorite Mexican dishes.