Nici Wickes’ smoky tomato salsa recipe

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25 February 2022

Reading Time: 2 minutes

We’ve arrived at that time of year when there’s a glut of tomatoes and I couldn’t be happier. I’m enjoying a huge crop from my garden this year – lots of cherry tomatoes, bulging beefsteak and Roma too – so much so that I’m renaming the end of summer “salsa season”.

Salsa translates to “sauce” in Spanish and one of my favourite tomato-based sauces is a fresh Mexican-style salsa. Ubiquitous in any cantina and usually served alongside fried tortilla chips, these sauces are always fresh and zippy, pepped up with chilli and lime and, to me, they make the most of fresh seasonal tomatoes. It’s also at this time of year that I get onto bottling my homemade tomato sauce. I always make enough sauce to see me through a year of hot chips!

Chargrilling the vegetables lends a wonderful smokiness to this salsa.


750g vine-ripened tomatoes

2 big red chillies, halved lengthwise and deseeded

2 cloves garlic, skin on

1 red onion, finely diced

1 spring onion, chopped

A handful of coriander, finely chopped

Juice from 1-2 limes (or use lemons)

1⁄2 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted

1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt


1. Heat grill to hot.

2. Lay half the tomatoes, halved chillies and garlic on a tray and place under the grill (or on a barbecue), and cook until the skins blister and blacken. Remove from the heat and cover with a tea towel. Leave until cool enough to handle. Slip the skins off the vegetables, not worrying too much if there is some skin left on, as it will add flavour to the salsa. Pulse skinned vegetables briefly in a food processor to combine, but retain some of the chunkiness. Transfer to a bowl.

3. Chop remaining tomatoes into a rough dice (a serrated knife will make this easier) and add to the bowl. Stir in the chopped red onion and spring onion, coriander, lime juice, cumin seeds and salt.

4. Set aside for 15 minutes before you taste to check for seasoning, as the flavours develop over time. You want it to be spicy, with a kick of chilli, a tang of lime and enough salt to bring it alive.

5. Serve with freshly fried tortilla chips.

Try this

  • Add some charred corn and cooked prawns to turn it into a meal.
  • Finely chopped cucumber and celery will add a crunch.
  • Use yellow tomatoes and diced capsicum in place of chilli for a milder, sunnier version.
  • Brush some bread with olive oil and rub it with a garlic clove then grill it on the barbecue. Top with salsa for a great little snack.
  • Double or triple the recipe and give jars of salsa away as gifts.
Nici’s note

Jars of this tomato salsa will keep well in the fridge for five to seven days.

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