Adapted from Cooking South of the Clouds by Georgia Freedman
You could absolutely employ different tomatoes than Roma tomatoes. Note, though, that you want sturdy tomatoes with taut skin. You do not want your juicy, paper-skinned heirloom tomatoes exploding into nightshade goo when they meet a ripping-hot grill (or broiler). And choose your chile weapon according to your tastes. Want the dip incendiary? Go with bird’s eye chiles. After a mellower sauce? Choose serranos or jalapeños, or even strip your chosen chiles of their veins and seeds. Regarding the raw vegetables, choose whichever you might use for crudités. There’s no wrong answer.
- Prepare a grill or heat the broiler to high.
- If you have them, use two wooden skewers of chopsticks to skewer the two tomatoes lengthwise if you're going to grill them. If you don't, that's fine. The tomatoes will just be a little more wily on the grill. If using the broiler, place the unskewered tomatoes on a roasting pan. Grill or broil the tomatoes, turning occasionally, until the skin is loose or split and blackened in spots.
- Add the grilled, charred tomatoes to a mortar, along with the chiles, herbs, and salt. Mash with the pestle until the tomatoes and chiles have been smashed into a loose sauce and the herbs have been ground into small pieces. (If your mortar is small, prepare the next steps in two batches; if you don't have a mortar and pestle, use the pulse function on a food processor. You want the sauce rough-textured, not fully puréed.)
- Serve the sauce in a bowl with the vegetables and herbs arranged around it.
Scott Hocker is a writer, editor, recipe developer, cookbook author, and content and editorial consultant. He has worked in magazines, kitchens, newsletters, restaurants and a bunch of other environments he can’t remember right now. He has also been the editor in chief of both liquor.com and Tasting Table.