Adrian and Celeste Quesada’s “Molcajete de Manitas”


Serves 4–6

The Quesadas decided to name this dish in honor of their daughters’ little hands that always seem to be busy in the kitchen.

Special equipment needed: A molcajete


Adrian and Celeste Quesada’s “Molcajete de Manitas”


For 1 Batch(es)


  • olive oil to prep the molcajete
  • 1 garlic clove to prep the molcajete
  • splash of olive oil
  • 2 pounds tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cups onion, slivered or thiny sliced, divided
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups veggies (Celeste's favorites are kale, spinach, fresh corn, rainbow chard, carrots and bell peppers)
  • 1 lime (juice of)
  • salt, pepper, ancho chili powder, oregano and cumin, to taste
  • 1/2 cups queso fresco, crumbled
  • 1 egg (add another if needed)
  • 1 teaspoons Kosher or sea salt, or to taste
  • 1 ripe avocado, sliced and drizzled with a little lemon juice
  • crème fraîche or sour cream, optional
  • cilantro, washed and chopped
  • corn tortillas or toast, optional
  • lime wedges for serving

Adrian and Celeste Quesada’s “Molcajete de Manitas” Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 450°.
  2. Oil the inside of the molcajete and rub it with the fresh garlic clove. Place it on a cookie sheet so the little legs don’t slip through the oven rack and put it in the oven to warm.
  3. In a medium saucepan, sauté the tomatoes, half the onions, the garlic and bay leaves in a splash of olive oil. Cover with water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  4. Simmer until thoroughly cooked—about 10 minutes.
  5. Take out the bay leaves, place the mixture in a blender and puree until smooth (if you don’t have a blender, don’t worry about it).
  6. In a large, heavy-bottomed pan set over medium heat, pour in the oil. Once hot, cook the rest of the onion—stirring now and then, until soft and translucent—about 4 to 5 minutes.
  7. Stir in the veggies and let them cook for 1 or 2 minutes. Pour in the tomato sauce, add the lime juice, sprinkle in the seasonings, to taste, and let it thicken for about 10 to 12 minutes (you can make this sauce ahead of time and refrigerate it).
  8. Carefully add the mixture to the molcajete while it’s still in the oven, sprinkle the cheese on top and then crack in an egg or two. Sprinkle the salt on top of the eggs, then close the oven and let them poach to the desired consistency (cooked whites with runny yolks take about 4 to 5 minutes).
  9. Once it’s ready, tell all children and dogs to get out of the kitchen and carefully pull the molcajete out of the oven. (Y’all, this thing is HOT and stays hot for a while. ¡Cuidate!)
  10. Garnish with the ripe avocado slices and crème fraîche or sour cream and fresh cilantro, if desired.
  11. Serve with slightly charred tortillas and maybe an extra squeeze of lime.

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