Salsa roja with Cotija cheese is a spicy salsa made from chile de arbol (tree chili), Serrano peppers, roma tomatoes, tomatillos, garlic and onion. It's served with salty, toasted Cotija cheese chunks and topped with cilantro.
Author: Andres Carnalla
Griddle or frying pan
1Serrano chili pepper
5Chiles de arbol (tree chili)
1Handful cilantrofinely chopped
1 ½ - 2cupsWater
Prepare the Salsa
Fill a pot with 1 ½ to 2 cups of water and add the chiles de arbol, Serrano peppers, garlic, roma tomatoes, tomatillos and onion.
Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes, or until the skin begins to peel away from the roma tomatoes and the chilis change to a lighter color.
Remove the peel from the cooked roma tomatoes.
Cut the tops off the chilis.
Add the contents of the pot—all vegetables and water—as well as salt to your blender.
Put the top on and carefully purée for about 15 seconds. You may want to cover the top with a kitchen towel and hold it down as you blend. The hot contents adds pressure to the container and you don't want to get burned if the top pops off.
Pour the contents of the blender into a serving dish and reserve.
Prepare the Garnish
Finely chop the cilantro and reserve.
Toast the Cotija Cheese
Preheat a griddle or frying pan over medium heat. Then cut the Cotija cheese into triangles and place onto the hot griddle.
Heat top, bottom and sides of each piece for about one minute each, or until toasted the way you like. Because Cotija cheese doesn’t melt, it won’t stick to your griddle. Also, it’s best to use a kitchen spatula to turn the cheese. If you use kitchen tongs or another tool, your cheese might break.
Once toasted, remove the cheese from the heat to a plate.
Place cheese on a cutting board and cut into ½-inch cubes.
Serve Your Salsa
Add the cheese cubes to the salsa in your serving plate. Sprinkle on the reserved cilantro and you’re ready to eat! Serve with carne asada tacos, or simply place in the middle of the table with tostadas or tortilla chips.
Sprinkle with oregano or squeeze a little lime juice on top for a flavor boost.
Add some chipotle chili for a smoky salsa.
Add ancho chili for a sweet, mild, chocolaty flavor.