Salsa Martajada

A delicious selection of Rio Grande Valley onions arrived at my home on a recent visit from my aunt and uncle. The Rio Grande Valley in south Texas was once the world's largest producers of onions known for their incredible texture and flavor.  I grew up watching both of my grandmothers and my aunts cook with these onions. 

My aunt Diana made herself at home in my kitchen, and incorporated the onions in her salsa martajada which refers to a salsa that has been hand blended in an ancient mortar made of volcanic rock called a molcajete.   She hand blended her salsa for many years until she discovered that she could easily pulse it in her blender.  I serve my salsa in my molcajete that belonged to my grandmother, however, I too, use a few pulses of a blender to create my salsa martajada.  

Salsa Martajada

Servings:  about 2 cups

1 lb. ripe Roma Tomatoes (about 5 tomatoes)

Serrano peppers (1/2 for mild, 1-2 for spicy)

1/4 cup reserved water in which the tomato and peppers are boiled

1 Tablespoon fresh minced garlic

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup sliced onions

2 Tablespoon olive oil


1. In a medium saucepan, arrange the tomatoes and Serrano chili peppers in a single layer. Fill with enough water to cover the tomatoes and peppers.  Bring to a boil.  Let boil until the peppers are a dull green color and the tomato peels have split and loosened from the tomato, 10-12 minutes. Use a fork to gently turn over each tomato and pepper half way during the cooking time.  


2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in medium skillet over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until softened and fragrant, flavoring the oil, 3-5 minutes.  Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Use a slotted spoon to transfer onions and garlic to blender, draining the oil back into the skillet.  Set aside skillet with oil.


3. Add salt to blender. Using a slotted spoon transfer serrano peppers to cutting board; remove stems and seeds.  Add peppers to blender, and pulse until well blended. 

Using a slotted spoon transfer whole tomatoes to blender. Add ¼ cup reserved water and pulse until well blended. 


 4. Heat oil in the skillet over medium heat.  Pour the tomato and pepper blend into the skillet, if needed, add up to 1/2 cup of the reserved saucepan water to achieve your desired salsa consistency.  Bring to a boil and remove from heat.  Serve warm or room temperature.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 5 days.