Albuquerque-based Jillipepper offers a variety of chile-based salsas and dry rubs. Photograph by Douglas Merriam.

Step into the salsa aisle of almost any New Mexico grocery store and the array of options might make you swoon. So many salsas, so little time. One that has tickled my taste buds recently is the selection of chile-based products from Jillipepper. The Albuquerque-based company has been around since 1993, when advertising executive Jill Levin solved the challenge of having too many tomatoes in her garden by starting her own brand. Over a quarter century later, she now offers a product line that boasts both salsas and fiery dry rubs that can easily be turned into marinades.

My favorite this summer was her Red Chile Pineapple Salsa, a tangy blend made from a base of tomatoes, red chile powder, onion, chile pequin, and jalapeños. Chunks of pineapple tame the fire, but just a bit. Given its Hawaiian twist, it’s perfect for topping kalua pork or Cuban-spiced chicken. I stirred it into melted Monterey Jack (with a splash of tequila) for an eclectic queso fundido, poured it over bubbling Brie served with crispy croutons, and whipped up a quick and easy corn-and-black-bean salad using the salsa for the dressing. 

Many New Mexico grocery stores stock Jillipepper salsas. Go online for three 16-ounce jars of Red Chile Pineapple Salsa for $15. 

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