We did it — we cracked the code. True it was years ago but I still do a little victory dance every time I think about it. Back when I moved to San Francisco and in the very first days of my life as a recipe tester, my then-boss was obsessed with figuring out how to make the Roasted Tomato Salsa from his favorite taqueria, Papalote.
We bought batch after batch after batch and, through trying to replicate it, I learned the ins and outs of timing, weighing, and all the other nit picky stuff that makes up test kitchen life. It took countless batches, taste tests, and lots of chip dipping, but we cracked the code on this homemade version of our favorite Papalote-Inspired Roasted Tomato Salsa recipe.
Papalote-Inspired Roasted Tomato Salsa Recipe
- 5 medium Roma tomatoes cored and halved
- 10 medium dried chile de arbol stemmed and seeded if you want it less hot
- 1 medium dried pasilla chile stemmed and seeded if you want it less hot
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon unrefined cane sugar
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons shelled pumpkin or sunflower seeds
- 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup finely chopped green onions (aka scallions)
- 1/4 cup packed finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
- To Char The Tomatoes: Heat the broiler to high and arrange a rack in the middle. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, then place the tomatoes skin-side up on the baking sheet. Broil the tomatoes until the skins are slightly charred. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- To Simmer The Tomatoes: Place the roasted tomatoes in a large stainless steel pan over high heat. Add the chiles de árbol, pasilla peppers, salt, sugar, and water and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer, stirring often, until the mixture has reduced slightly and thickened, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, toast the pumpkin seeds in a small frying pan over medium-low heat, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
- To Finish The Salsa: Add the vinegar to the tomato mixture and cook for 1 minute. Place the mixture in a blender, add the toasted pumpkin seeds, scallions, and cilantro, remove the plug on the blender top so it lets off heat, then carefully blend until smooth. Pour the salsa into an airtight resealable container, taste, and add more salt, pepper, or vinegar, as desired. Refrigerate uncovered until thoroughly chilled before serving, at least 2 hours.