Fourth of July Roasted Tomato Salsa

Fourth of July Roasted Tomato Salsa Recipe

I've been sitting on this salsa recipe for over six months now, waiting (and waiting) for tomato season. I waited through citrus season, asparagus season, and a good chunk of the stone fruits. Every few weeks I'd flip through my pocket-sized notebook and there it was, a messy scribble of black pen spanning three-quarters of a single page. The black letters were there to remind me of the deliciously vibrant, earthy, and slightly smoky-tasting salsa I jotted down while visiting friends in New Zealand. It is a salsa richly red in hue, accented with tiny flecks of green cilantro - a salsa recipe I will refer to many times...

Let me back up a bit, it was just the start of New Zealand's warm season, and we were lucky enough to be staying with our good friends Hadley and Philip. Hadley is an A+ cook and I love sharing the kitchen with her - unfortunately it is an all too rare occurrence because instead of a manageable San Francisco Bay separating us, there is now the much larger Pacific Ocean to contend with. Hadley and Philip rolled out the welcome mat for us and that night was the first time the four of us had shared a table in five years. We stayed with in Wellington for a week, and Hadley made this salsa for us one evening. My notes might have suffered a bit from the amount of New Zealand wine consumed, but I believe this is quite close to Hadley's version.

Why this salsa? If you are used to making or buying salsa fresca, great. I love salsa fresca and make it regularly. This salsa is an entirely different beast - the deep, caramelized flavors of the roasted tomatoes and onions alongside the smokiness of the chipotle(s) makes for a richly beautiful and balanced salsa. The other thing I love is the texture. This salsa has a rustic, hearty texture which comes from pureeing a portion of the ingredients toward the beginning of the process, and then hand-chopping the majority of the roasted tomatoes and onions.

Not just for chips, this is the perfect salsa recipe for use on tacos, eggs, quesadillas, kabobs.....a perfect addition of a Fourth of July spread. Other ideas? Give a shout in the comments.

Fourth of July Roasted Tomato Salsa Recipe

If you can't find a guajillo pepper, no worries - just leave it out of the recipe. The salsa will still taste delicious with just the roasted tomatoes and chipotles. You can also substitute another type of chile if you like. The reddish-brown guajillo are known for their strong, complex and earthy flavor, and medium heat. Feel free to experiment with more readily available chiles from your area until you find one you really like to play off the flavors of the chipotles and roasted tomatoes.

Two chipotles can be very spicy, consider yourself warned. Start with one, or even one-half a chipotle if you or your family are heat-sensitive, and work up from there.

2 pounds Roma tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
1 medium white onion, cut into six wedges
1 large garlic clove, halved
a couple pinches of finely ground sea salt
2-3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium dried guajillo chile pepper, soaked in boiling water until softened, and then drained

1 -2 chipotles in adobo sauce (canned)

1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped

Heat oven to 400F degrees. Now gently tossed the tomatoes, onions, garlic, and salt with the olive oil in a large bowl. After they are nicely coated arrange in a single layer, tomatoes cut-side facing up, across a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the tomatoes start to collapse and the onions begin to caramelize a bit. Remove from the oven.

Puree the chiles (both the guajillo and chipotles) with the roasted garlic and two roasted tomato halves. Chop the remaining tomatoes by hand (once they've cooled a bit). Chop and add the onions as well. Season with salt and stir in the cilantro.

Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!
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I made cooked salsa similar to this recently. However, I broiled my tomatoes, to blacken the skin and I roasted three jalepenos over an open flame. I love the sound of this salsa though, and the chipotles and guajillo peppers. It's bliss with chips but along the central coast of California, between Santa Barbara and Big Sur, it's popular to spoon it over a thick, grilled steak with a nice charred crust. I wish I had one now.


I love the flavor of chipotle, and need to head out to Tractor Joe's to get some tomatoes!

Deborah Dowd

If you have a smoker pan, another thing try is smoking your tomatoes and other vegetables on the grill. It's an amazing flavor.

(Supposedly you can use a smoker pan on your stovetop, but I toss mine on the gas grill. I don't really trust the assurances that little smoke will escape, since even a little smoke will go a long way toward "perfuming" my house.)


sounds great!! much better than a store-bought salsa


I do a similar salsa, but instead of roasting I grill the tomatoes, peppers and onion and garlic over hardwood. Grant mentioned using it on steak above, but I also love to spoon it over grilled swordfish or halibut.

Jennifer Hess

Mmmmmmmm, I just read this recipe before grocery shopping, now I know exactly what to take to the 4th of July party and have added the ingredients to my grocery list! This sounds great, thanks!


This sound scrumptious. I am so making this Wednesday!!! Thanks Heidi.


My standard salsa roja is very similar, though without the guajillo chile. I'm going to have to give that a try!

Magpie Ima

I like salsa on my baked potatoes - cutting out the fat of butter!


... I love all the word play here. fire. red. spicy. hot. I'm not so good at following full recipes, but I think I'll roast some tomatoes as a nod to your timely post.

shuna fish lydon

Lot of grillers out there, I see. I, too, grill the ingredients. Guajillos are lovely, although I'm not adverse to sneaking a bit of habanero in there. (I'm a chilehead).


I think I maybe love roasted salsa even more than fresh. Rick Bayless has a recipe where garlic and jalapenos are roasted along with the tomatoes. Then I just mash them all up in the molcajete, and also serve the salsa in it. I've had some cherry and grape tomatoes ripen so far, and a few other regular-sized ones should be ready this week, and man, am I waiting for those!


It's amazing how roasting can completely change tomatoes. They go from something light and summery, to something deep and rich and complex.

I make roasted tomato soup in the winter because roasting tomatoes can disguise sub-par piece of fruit, but the other day I made the soup with some toms from my garden, and it turned out great.

I even included some that were still a little green and it added a nice tangy element to the soup.

I love your blog, read it all the time! bk

Blake Killian

I appreciate the fact that salsa has become an American classic!


My dad just brought me 10 gallons of fresh tomatoes from his garden. This recipe will be the hit of the July 4 party I am invited to. I am so excited. Thanks


That looks outstanding, but like Pookha said, I would sneak a habanero or two into it--I like it SPICY!


sounds fabulous!

i found guajillo peppers (yes, out here in stlouis!!!) at penzeys spices. are such an inspiration! i have enjoyed cooking out of "super natural" for some time now and continue to be amazed how simple and wholesome your approach to food is! thank you!!!


This recipe sounds delicious! I just found another great article on classic 4th of July recipes. Take a look by following this link:


Thsi recipe looked so good and I have a party to go to on the 4th so I made it tonight...and it's terrific! I roasted everything on the grill (and I happened to have had some leftover grilled onions in the fridge, so I didn't even need to make those). I didn't have guajillo peppers, so I used a small onza roja and a chipotle meca from Native Seeds. It is wonderul! Thanks!


Well, I couldn't find the guajilo peppers, but I'm still making and bringing this to a barbeque tomorrow. Thanks for the recipe!


I'm always looking for low(er) carb recipes to add to my blog for anyone interested in find recipes that are on the low glycemic index... And I gotta say, I could fill my blog with recipes like this! I love roasted veggies. I did a salsa a couple of weeks about roasted tomatillos and wanted to try with regular roma tomatoes. I really appreciate the inspiration! thanks.

gi diet

This recipe sounds delicious. I love the idea of summer sweet tomatoes roasted along with all the other ingredients. Nothing beats home-made salsa!

Monika Korngut

I love this! I must admit I will have a difficult time getting those roasted veggies all the way to the salsa stage. I am hooked on them. What a great recipe. Thanks.


Wow! Sounds yummy, but hot chilli sauces aren't good for my stomach. Would it change too much if I don't add the chilli?


Does anyone know how long this would keep for if jarred? Sounds like a nice jar of this would make a great, personal gift, along with some homemade chutney and jam.


Heidi! I am honored that our Christmas salsa was a fave of yours! Those were some good times! I think it is so funny that you posted about it because I just made the salsa the other night and I hadn't made it since your visit in Dec. It being winter down here in NZ, we had to use good quality caned whole tomatoes and because we were in a hurry, we used fresh garlic and onion *unroasted*. I have to say, it was a different beast to the roasted version but amazing none the less. Especially in the middle of winter!


I tried this salsa before was good i loved.


This salsa was fabulous. I used a pasilla chile along with the the chipotles and it turned out awesome. The tomatoes lost their skins easily so I ended up just taking them all off. It was wonderful on corn tortillas with homemade refried beans and a little cheese.


I made this using coriander out of a jar as the local store coriander was not at its best. Still tasted good.Used pepperdew peppers and fresh onion. Yummy. Lasted several days.


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