Due to the bounty of tomatoes that is now coming our way in our grocery stores, farmer’s markets, and CSA baskets, summer is the perfect time to make salsa, and I have the perfect recipe for you.
“What?” you say. “That’s why God put jarred salsa in the grocery store.”
Oh, no, my friends. Once you’ve tasted this salsa, you’ll wonder where salsa has been all your life. Once you’ve made this salsa to share with a friend, you will become the most valued party guest all summer long at any affair, and all you’ll have to do is say, “I’ll bring chips and my homemade salsa”. From that day on, your reputation as the one who brings the world’s best fire-roasted salsa will have become legendary.
And easy? Pfffffffft!!!! There’s nothing to it!
SOME RECIPE NOTES:
TOMATOES: When you broil those fresh tomatoes, do yourself a favor and put a sheet of parchment paper down on your baking sheet. They’re going to blacken (a bit) and bubble out – that’s as it should be – and basically make a mess on your pan that you don’t want to scrub later. So use parchment paper trimmed to fit the pan (so the broiler doesn’t catch long edges of untrimmed paper on fire) and then throw away that mess once you’ve removed the tomatoes and peppers. The tomatoes are going to lose some moisture, and their flavor is going to caramelize and intensify, and dear momma are they going to taste good. KEEP AN EYE ON THEM, BECAUSE ALL BROILERS HEAT DIFFERENTLY. You want a bit of blistering on the skins, with a bit of black, here and there. You don’t want dried-out smoking bits of incinerated tomato ash. If a few of your tomatoes look like little blackened bombs, remove their skin, and you should find an intensely flavored tomato jewel within, still able to be used. (Yes, I had to do that with a few.) The jalapeños are going to char, a bit, too, and you want that.
JALAPENOS: While I broiled 2, I only ended up using one per batch of salsa. We don’t like a lot of heat. Jalapeños can vary a great deal as to the amount of heat you find in them. Some can be quite strong. One of mine was. One was mild. What’s a cook to do? Taste. Use the heat level that works for your family. If you like a lot of heat, roast 3, and use the ribs and seeds. If you’re a weeny, roast one, and wearing gloves, trim out all the ribs and seeds. That’s where the heat is.
VINEGAR: the cider vinegar at the end is what cooks talking about as a “hit of acid” to brighten up the flavor. I tried making this with lime juice as an alternative to cider vinegar, but was surprised that I preferred the cider vinegar. So…use what you like for an acid, but know that after trying both, I think cider vinegar works well as the acid in this recipe.
Thanks to the bounty of fresh tomatoes that Summer graciously provides for us, procuring a pound and a half of tomatoes should be a snap…BUT…if you don’t have time to run out and grab some, you CAN make this salsa with a 14.5 oz can of Fire Roasted Diced Canned Tomatoes. I know this to be true, because I did it while researching this recipe. Hence, the title, Fire Roasted Salsa Recipe, Two Ways.
Is using canned tomatoes as good as using fresh tomatoes? Frankly, no. I tried them, side by side, and there’s no comparison between broiling your own fresh tomatoes, vs. dumping in a can. However, if the zombie apocalypse comes, and there are no fresh tomatoes available to you, (or if it’s winter), you can do this with a 14.5 oz can of fire-roasted canned tomatoes, and skip roasting them: just dump them in the food processor. Your salsa will have a tinny aftertaste. But you can overcome this to a degree by stirring in about a half of a teaspoon of sugar. It won’t completely mask the tinny taste, but it will help a lot. You will still need to roast the jalapeños, onion slices and garlic cloves.
Here’s how to make the:
WORLD’S BEST FIRE-ROASTED SALSA
1 1/2 lbs. of tomatoes (you can use any type…but I used cherry tomatoes)
2-3 jalapeño peppers
1/2 small white onion, sliced 1/4″ thick, and then separated into rings
5 cloves peeled garlic
1/3 c. chopped fresh cilantro (use leaves and stems)
1 t. salt
1 1/2 t. cider vinegar
ROAST THE TOMATOES AND PEPPERS:
Arrange a shelf of your oven so that it is approximately 4″ below the heating element. Heat the broiler. Lay the whole tomatoes and the jalapeño peppers on a baking sheet that has been lined with a sheet of parchment paper, trimmed to fit. Place the pan of tomatoes and peppers underneath the broiler heating element for about 5 minutes, keeping an eye on things. You want some char, but not incineration. Remove from broiler, flip everything over on its belly, and put it back in to finish for a little less time…maybe 4 minutes this time. Again, keep watchful attention on what’s going on, to avoid things getting TOO charred. Things should look darkly roasted, and even blackened in spots. The tomato skins will split and curl. This is as it should be. Remove from oven and let cool.
ROAST THE ONION RINGS AND GARLIC:
Turn the oven off of broil, and heat it to 425º. Line another baking sheet with parchment paper, and scatter the sliced onion rings and peeled garlic cloves onto the pan. Place the pan in the oven for approximately 15 minutes total. Onion slices will wilt, and brown in spots, and garlic cloves will brown. If anything begins looking too dark brown, rescue it from the pan, but continue cooking the rest. Stir the slices every 5 minutes: this will allow you to keep an eye on their progress, and keep them from getting too brown. Remove from oven and allow them to cool.
WHIR IT ALL UP IN A FOOD PROCESSOR:
Remove the ribs and seeds from the jalapeños if you’re heat-sensitive, and chop them up a bit. Dump the tomatoes, sliced jalapeños, onion slices and garlic cloves into the food processor and whir them all around for a few minutes, till things look like you want. If you think you might like it thinner, you can always add 1/4 c. of water, but I didn’t. Sprinkle in the 1 t. of salt and pulse a few more times. Then add the cilantro and vinegar, and pulse a few more times. Voilà! World’s Best Fire-Roasted Salsa. You can refrigerate this for up to 5 days. Good luck keeping it around that long.
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