Smoky Tomato Salsa


Before you say to yourself, “Is that a spoonful of Fritos with salsa on top?”

The answer is yes.

Desperate times, people. Desperate times. I ran out of jalapeños last week and two weeks before that, I ate my last chipotle. In my freezer, I have: one and a fourth of a corn tortilla, one whole wheat flour tortilla, and one red chile tortilla. The Fritos were a gift from someone who came back from the States about a month ago. I am down to one-fourth of a bag. And I’m so close to getting back to Texas, I refuse to buy another sack of those awful Leader Price (another nonsensical French word inversion, by the way, like le site web) faux-Doritos.

My salsa deserves better.

I always tend to do this right before I leave for Texas. On the one hand, I’m eating baguettes as if I’m squirreling them away for the time that I’ll be gone; on the other, I’m already craving what I’ll be eating while I’m there. I can’t explain it. But this is always how it goes.

So don’t ask me why I had the sudden urge to make a jar of salsa right before I’m leaving for Texas. I really can’t answer that, because I just don’t know. Maybe it’s that I’m revving my taste buds up for the fire that awaits…or that I’m really excited to be going home.

It’s probably both. That and I hate to see Fritos go to waste. So I’ve been eating them by the spoonful, with salsa on top. Just like that.

Smoky Tomato Salsa

Makes almost 2 cups

  • 3 dried ancho chiles
  • 2 cloves of garlic, skins left on
  • ¼ of a yellow onion, left whole
  • a tablespoon of corn oil
  • 1 (14.5-ounce)/411 gram can of fire-roasted tomatoes (I like Muir Glen)
  • sea salt


1. Put a kettle of water onto boil and toast your ancho chiles: With your kitchen scissors, snip off the very top of each chile with the stem, and cut down one side of the chile so you can open it up like a book. Brush out all of the seeds. Put a comal, cast iron pan or crêpe pan (this is what I use in France) over medium-low heat and when it’s warm, lay the chiles out as flat as you can, keeping them pushed down with a wooden spoon so they can toast. When you can smell them, they’re ready to flip over. Err on the side of less rather than more, because chiles can burn easily…and we don’t want to burn our chiles. When you’ve toasted all of your chiles, put them in a bowl and pour some hot water of them so they can steep (and soften) for 10 to 15 minutes.

2. Now quickly toast your garlic and the one-fourth of an onion on the comal, too. Just let them go until they brown a little. Peel the garlic and the onion.

3. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, drizzle a tiny bit of corn oil and toss in the garlic and onion. Add your tomatoes, softened chiles and a good pinch of salt. Taste. Serve warm or at room temperature.