A recipe for hot and spicy Salsa Ranchera Sauce, featuring freshly roasted plum tomatoes and serrano chiles – a great addition to tacos, enchiladas, nachos, and more. Best of all, the recipe is FODMAP friendly, Gluten-Free, and easily Vegetarian too!
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Welcome to the first installment of a three-part recipe series in celebration of Cinco de Mayo 2017! Over the next week, I’ll be sharing three recipes for the occasion: today’s Salsa Ranchera Sauce; a Baked Chile Relleno recipe next week to go with it; and of course, a cocktail recipe – an Elderflower & Citrus Paloma.
Oh – and an important thing to note is that each of these recipes are naturally gluten-free!
A Little Background
Whether it’s authentic or fusion, I love the flavors of Mexican cuisine. Tacos, tamales, enchiladas (especially enchiladas!) are all top in my book. These days, due to the necessity of cutting down onion, garlic, and other high FODMAP foods from my diet, I have to find ways to make most of these dishes out of my own kitchen. Mexican restaurants are probably one of the more difficult places for me to go out to eat. Instead, we have frequent taco nights at home and I’ve learned to make some pretty fantastic quick chunky salsas using tomatoes, fruit, and fresh cilantro.
Hoping to add some variety, I picked up Alex Stupak’s cookbook, Tacos: Recipes and Provocations. While some recipes are more advanced and a number might require some time-consuming preparations, it’s full of inspiring ideas, great descriptions of traditional techniques, and some all-around good prose. One entire chapter focuses on various salsas and sauces to be used with dishes throughout the book – few of which I could enjoy as written due to my restrictions. Not to be deterred, I did some research, used the book as my inspiration, and got to work: It was time to make a traditional-style red Salsa Ranchera Sauce that I (and anyone else on a similar diet) could enjoy.
What is the Low FODMAP Diet?
If you haven’t encountered it before, FODMAP is an acronym for a group of compounds believed to contribute to various digestive issues (specifically: fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols). Originally developed by researchers at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, a low FODMAP diet works on the premise that the body can have difficulty absorbing these carbohydrate chains, and reducing or eliminating them may help with certain symptoms. Like other elimination diets, first all the potential problem foods are removed from one’s diet. Individual foods can then slowly be added back to determine which foods trigger symptoms. One may find they can tolerate small amounts of various foods, or that others cause no issues at all. That being said, onion and garlic are rated exceptionally high and are almost universally avoided by those following the diet plan.
After suffering for nearly a year from undiagnosed nausea and stomach pains, my doctors were at a loss. I’d tried living gluten-free for months, with no change. I cut down sugar significantly, and went through withdrawal symptoms. I had scan after scan after scan. Nothing was finding the source problem. Finally, a specialist recommended I try the Low FODMAP Diet. To my delight, I found that it helped. I’ve learned things I can and cannot have, what I can eat in small portions, and overall significantly improved my quality of life. All of this understandably forced me to test my cooking skills, and I taught myself all sorts of ways to cook outside of traditional (often onion and garlic heavy) recipes and cuisines while still eating things I loved.
[For more information on the Low FODMAP Diet, check out some resource links at the bottom of this post. Please note: I am not a medical professional and anything presented on the Feast in Thyme website is informational only and not meant to be taken as medical advice. As with any drastic change regarding your health, please consult your health care professional before attempting any new diet plan.]
Salsa Ranchera Sauce
This recipe goes out to all of my FODMAP-friendly comrades that don’t want to sacrifice flavor for their well-being, as well as anyone else who just wants a super simple and delicious Salsa Ranchera Sauce for their next Tex-Mex meal. The best part is that even without the onion and garlic, it doesn’t feel like it’s missing a thing.
The key to this Salsa Ranchera Sauce is the roasted vegetables. The plum tomatoes – which can be found year-round but will be especially abundant in farmer’s markets this summer – are oven-roasted under the broiler. I suggest pan-roasting the serrano chiles in a dry cast iron skillet so you can keep a close eye on the tiny peppers, but you can oven-roast them as well if you prefer (just be mindful that they might broil quickly!).
After the tomatoes are peeled and the chiles deprived of their stems and seeds, both take a trip through the blender until smooth. From there, the puree is cooked down with some broth, cumin, salt, and pepper. After about 30 minutes, you should have at least three cups of spicy hot red sauce thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
The Salsa Ranchera Sauce will keep in the fridge for one week, or you can freeze small portions for a 2-3 month self-life and thaw them as needed. Use liberally on tacos, enchiladas, for dipping nachos, or anything else you can think of.
And of course, it will go perfectly with this crispy and cheesy Baked Chile Relleno recipe!
Low FODMAP Salsa Ranchera Sauce
Adapted from Tacos: Recipes and Provocations
Makes approximately 3 cups
- 10 plum or Roma tomatoes (about 2 lbs.)
- 4 serrano chiles
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 cups broth (I typically use chicken broth, but use vegetable broth to keep this vegetarian)*
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
Preheat boiler and set rack 4 inches below. Arrange plum tomatoes on a baking sheet, and roast for about 7 minutes, rotating halfway through. When lightly charred, remove to a bowl and let cool for about 10 minutes. Peel and discard the skins.
Set a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the chiles to the dry skillet and roast, rotating, for about 6 minutes. Remove and allow to cool (about 5 minutes). Discard the stems and seeds.
When they are cool enough to handle, place the tomatoes and chiles in a blender (or food processor) and pulse until smooth. You should end up with about 3 cups of puree.
Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a sauce pan over medium high heat and add the tomato-chile puree. Bring to a boil, and cook until reduced by half, 6-8 minutes. If it starts to sputter and splash, place a splatter guard or loosely tented foil over the pan.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the broth and seasonings. Cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring often, until the mixture clings to the back of a spoon. The finished Salsa Ranchera Sauce will keep in the fridge for up to one week. To extend the shelf life, freeze portions and store in freezer-safe containers or bags and use within 2-3 months.
*Check Your Ingredients: If you are using store-bought vegetable or chicken broth and wish to keep the recipe low FODMAP, check the ingredients to make sure the product you use does not contain any ingredients that are high in FODMAPs.
Low-FODMAP Diet Resources:
- Monash University Low FODMAP Diet and Further Resources
- General Information on FODMAP
- Complete List of High and Low FODMAP Foods
- The Low-FODMAP Diet Cookbook by Dr. Sue Shepperd (A resource I personally found exceptionally helpful in learning how to cook within the diet).