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Here are a few recipes for traditional and contemporary New Mexican appetizers. Try serving these dips with blue corn tortilla chips.

Chile con Queso

Chile and melted cheese mixed together make the ultimate party dip!

  • 8 ounces pasteurized processed cheese (cut into chunks)
  • ½ cup evaporated milk
  • ⅔ cup green chile sauce

Microwave cheese chunks and milk for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring to achieve a creamy consistency. Strain excess liquid from green chile sauce. Add green chile sauce and microwave until desired temperature (approximately 40 seconds).

Yields about 2 cups and is excellent as both a party dip and a delicious topping for eggs, ​hamburgers and chicken. Makes 4 servings

Recipe courtesy of El Pinto Restaurant & Cantina,


This classic dip is made of mashed, spiced avocado, usually with chopped onion, tomatoes, garlic, lime and chile. For greatest flavor, appearance and keeping quality, always cut avocados into coarse chunks. Do not mash the avocado or puree it in a food processor.

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice or to taste
  • 1 medium-size tomato, chopped
  • ¼ cup finely chopped Spanish onion
  • 1 medium-size jalapeño chile, minced
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

Halve and pit the avocados, and scoop pulp into a bowl. Coarsely shop with two knives. Add salt and garlic; add lime juice to taste. Fold in tomato, onion, chile and cilantro. Let stand a few minutes before serving to allow flavors to blend. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Makes 2 cups

Salsa Fresca

Salsa is generally an uncooked mixture of chiles/peppers, tomatoes and onions. This refreshing sauce can be as mild or as hot as you like, depending on the chiles used.

  • 1 large tomato, finely chopped
  • ½ cup finely chopped onion or 2 green onions, including tops, chopped
  • Either 4 green chiles, parched, peeled and chopped; 1 4-ounce can chopped green chiles; or 2 to 4 fresh jalapeño chiles, finely minced
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped cilantro (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a medium-size bowl. Marinate at least 15 minutes. Cover and refrigerate up to 3 days.

Makes 1 ½ to 2 cups

Variation: Add ¾ cup cooked black beans to make black bean salsa.

Recipe courtesy of Jane Butel’s Southwestern Kitchen,

Heirloom Tomato Pico de Gallo

Pico de gallo, Spanish for “rooster’s beak,” is a relish made of finely chopped ingredients such as jicama, onions, chiles/peppers, tomatoes and various seasonings. This condiment was so named because it was once purportedly eaten with the thumb and finger, an action that resembles a rooster’s pecking beak. The recipe below was provided by Gwyneth Doland, Albuquerque’s cuisine expert. She likes to make this salsa in the summer, when she can find red, yellow, orange and green tomatoes at one of Albuquerque’s many farmers markets. Try it with chips or sprinkled over fajitas, fish tacos or grilled chicken breasts.

  • 2 cups diced tomatoes of mixed colors
  • 2 jalapeños, stemmed, seeded and minced
  • ½ cup diced red onion
  • ¼ cup cilantro leaves
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt

In a bowl, toss the tomatoes with the jalapeños, onion, cilantro and lime juice. Season to taste with salt and serve immediately.

Makes 2 ½ to 3 cups

Recipe courtesy of ABQ cuisine expert Gwyneth Doland

Sweet Pear Pineapple Salsa

This sweet salsa combines the mellow flavor of pear with pineapple and tart craisins or dried cranberries. The chile pulls all the flavors together. Pork, poultry and seafood are all equally good with this salsa.

  • 1 Anjou or Bartlett pear, peeled, cored and diced
  • 1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1 cup dried cranberries or craisins
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pequin quebrado, or more to taste

In a nonreactive bowl, combine the pear, pineapple, cranberries and chile. Allow to stand for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 2 ½ cups or 4 generous servings

Recipe courtesy of Jane Butel’s Southwestern Kitchen,