An Easy, Smoky Salsa to Serve Your Holiday Guests

Salsa Appetizer
Photo: Courtesy of Tacombi

When it comes to holiday hosting, we’re all about easy appetizers, like dips, which can be whipped up well in advance and eaten with store-bought crackers and crudité. This year, we’re serving up Salsa Ceniza (“Ash Salsa”) from beloved N.Y.C.-based taco truck-turned-restaurant Tacombi. “This salsa is very unique in its preparation and flavor,” says executive chef Jason DeBriere, “The onions and chilies are basically burnt on the grill, griddle, or plancha [a slate slab]. When blended with the fresh tomatillos, the inherent acidity and sweetness of the tomatillos balance the charred flavor of the chilies to create a delicious salsa with a complex flavor profile.”

The salsa, which will keep for one week in the fridge, is delicious when paired with simple tortilla chips, or used as a condiment for grilled steak, chicken, and fish tacos. Make the crowd-pleasing recipe below for any upcoming holiday celebrations, or next week’s Taco Tuesday. Whichever comes sooner. Read on for the full how-to.

Salsa Ceniza

Yields about 1 qt of salsa


3 poblano chilies

1 white onion (peeled)

1 red onion (peeled)

1 jalapeno (stem removed)

1 serrano (stem removed)

1 habanero (stem removed)

½ head roasted garlic (charred on the comal or plancha, griddle and peeled)

1 qt fresh tomatillos, husk removed and cleaned and quartered

2 tbs white vinegar

2 tbs fresh lime juice

Sugar to taste

Salt to taste


1. Char on plancha or grill onions and chilies until blackened. Do not peel the seeds or chilies—only remove the stems.

2. Combine charred onions and chilies in a blender with the tomatillos and garlic. Blend and add vinegar, lime juice, sugar and salt. The salsa should be a little chunky; if it’s too thick, add a little water and more vinegar. Always check for salt after adding water.

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