Suzi's Blog

Cinco de Mayo Salsa: Sweet Strawberries with Arbol Chilies

truly mexican

Cinco de Mayo. It’s become something like St. Patrick’s Day, an extended holiday where all of us can share some joy. Personally, I prefer Cinco. St. Patrick’s is about parades and beer. Cinco is about food and beer — and margaritas.

Brian and I try to expand our repertoire of Mexican recipes each Cinco. From the new book Truly Mexican by Roberto Santibanez, here is an idea that will fortify your table and please every guest who loves heat. It’s a salsa with the fire of chilies, the tang of tomatillos, and the lovely sweetness of early strawberries. Rather than have “plain old” salsa, liven it up with this new flavor combination.

This recipe calls for dried arbol chilies, not fresh. The dried versions are rated as very spicy. You do not have to deseed or devein them before roasting.

Sweet Strawberry Salsa with Arbol Chiles

Yield: 1 ½ cup


  • 2 dried arbol chilies, wiped clean stemmed
  • 2 tomatillos, husked and rinsed
  • 1 pound strawberries, rinsed, hulled and quartered [3 ½ cups]
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 10 whole peppercorns
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 2 small Turkish bay leaves or 1 small California leaf
  • ¼ teaspoon fine salt or ½ teaspoon kosher salt


Heat a heavy skillet over medium-low heat and roast the tomatillos and toast the chilies, turning the chilies over and pressing down on them frequently with tongs, until they are browned all over and with some blackened spots, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the chilies and continue to roast the tomatillos, turning them over only once, until their tops and bottoms have blackened and the tomatillos are khaki-green color and cooked to the core, 20 to 30 minutes total.

Add the strawberries to the tomatillos in the hot skillet and cook, stirring over medium heat, until they start to give off liquid.  Add the toasted chilies, sugar, peppercorns, cloves, bay leaves, and salt. Cook until the strawberries are soft, about 5 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to the blender jar and blend until the spices break down and salsa is very smooth, about 1 minute, then strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve, pressing don and then discard the solids.

This salsa keeps in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Source: Truly Mexican by Roberto Santibanez


Tomatillo Temptations Part 3

I have offered two versions of tomatillo salsa recently. Here is the third and easily the best. The reasons to love this salsa are many. Flavor, of course. The aroma of fresh cilantro. The vibrant green color. This is awesome salsa. Unlike the two earlier ones, this one uses canned, not fresh, tomatillos. It take five minutes to make and will brighten your chips, salads, or burritos. The flavor is unique.

Originally, I made this recipe with fresh jalapenos. I prefer using candied jalapenos now, and you can check my earlier blog for the quick way to make them:

Canned Tomatillo Salsa

Yield: 2-3 cups


4-5 whole canned tomatillos [a full medium can or half of a large can]
2 tablespoons of the juice from the canned tomatillos
1 medium red onion, diced
¼ cup candied jalapenos
1 garlic clove, smashed
2 tablespoons red raspberry vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup cilantro leaves


Place the ingredients in the order listed into a blender. Blend until the cilantro leaves have been totally processed and the salsa has transformed to a deep green. Taste test. You may want an additional splash of vinegar or a dash of salt.

Place in covered container and refrigerate. Stir before using.

Source: Brian O’Rourke