There are things about living in Tunisia that remind me of growing up in the Southwest. One of those is chilies on a string. Just south of Tunis is Cap Bon, well known for producing fiery hot chilies that are ground into Tunisian harissa. Truck farmers will park around town, in the fall, and sell long strings of leathery dried chilies on a rope. I bought one for the first time this year and it has been wonderful to have a constant supply of chilies ready at a snip in the kitchen. Bon Appetit had this recipe for Dried Chile Salsa in February and it was just what I needed to make ready use of my chilies for a hot, cooked salsa or an enchilada sauce. I am thinking of blending up the rest of my chilies before I go home and putting them in my chest freezer for instant use when we get back in August.
Dried Chile Salsa
- 12 dried New Mexico or guajillo chiles (about 2 ounces)
- 4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
- 1 tablespoon (or more) apple cider vinegar
- Kosher salt
Toast chiles in a large heavy skillet over medium heat until slightly puffed and lightly darkened on both sides, about 2 minutes. Remove from pan; let cool. Add garlic to same skillet; cook, turning often, until skins brown in spots and cloves are soft, 10-15 minutes. Remove from pan. Let cool; peel.
Stem chiles and halve lengthwise; discard seeds. Cut into pieces; transfer to a medium bowl. Cover with boiling water; let soak, mixing often, until softened, 25-30 minutes.
Drain chiles, reserving soaking liquid. Transfer chiles, garlic, 1/2 cup soaking liquid, and 1 tablespoon vinegar to blender. Purée, adding soaking liquid as needed, until a smooth, thick sauce forms. Season with salt and more vinegar, if desired. DO AHEAD: Salsa can be made 1 week ahead. Cover; chill
I add about 4 ounces of tomato paste to give the salsa some body and to temper the heat.