As we often mention in our blog, the garden dictates much of what we cook this time of year. And since we have sweet tomatoes and spicy Serrano peppers, it’s time to make salsa. But not just any salsa. We asked our friend and awesome Mexican cook (see her Posole recipe here) Maricela join us to share one of her salsa recipes. And while Maricela has a number of tasty salsas, with our tomatoes so ripe and sweet, she chose this version of oven-roasted tomato salsa.
The salsa itself has only 6 ingredients; tomatoes, garlic, peppers, onion, salt and a dash of water. But the right in-season ingredients, matched with a few key techniques and a little time, makes for a lovely sweet, bright and slightly hot salsa that you can use on just about any dish (probably not ice cream, but you get the idea). The only “special” equipment you need is a blender or food processor. And as this salsa is briefly cooked, it keeps for a while too.
Making the salsa is easy, but as we mentioned earlier, a few techniques matter. Firstly, you clean and core your tomatoes and roast in a very hot oven with the garlic and peppers (your kitchen will smell amazing). But a key is to remove the peppers and garlic halfway through the roast so they don’t burn and crate acrid flavors. Also, when the tomatoes are done, remove one tomato and put it in the blender with the peppers and garlic (add a splash of water if too dry)to create a very fine purée before adding the other tomatoes. This ensures that you don’t get rough chunks of garlic or peppers and their flavor is evenly distributed in the salsa. Then you add and purée all the tomatoes, but be sure to scrape all the caramelized liquid and brown bits from the baking sheet into the blender- this is where the extra sweetness comes from. And this extra sweetness is the perfect balance for the heat of the peppers. Finally, add your finely diced onion (see the photos and notes for Maricela’s technique) for extra bright and fresh flavors after you briefly reduce and cool the tomato mixture. None of these steps takes much extra time, but the attention to detail makes a world of difference.
And in the end, you get a delicious, versatile salsa. The oven-roasted tomato salsa lands somewhere between the chunky acidity of pico de gallo and the smooth heat of salsa roja. The texture is smooth and thick, while the flavor sweet but with a pleasant lingering heat from the peppers. This salsa works with tortilla chips or on proteins, but our favorite is just a touch of the salsa with scrambled eggs, cheese and a warm tortilla…an easy, tasty meal just about any time of day. Thanks Maricela!
Oven-Roasted Tomato Salsa:
Notes Before You Start:
- Maricela’s technique for finely dicing onions is uncommon in many kitchens, but the onion will have more flavor (similar to grating the onion). She makes multiple top-down cuts to the onion and then shaves it crosswise with a very sharp knife. Then repeats every 1/4 inch, or so. The result is a very, very fine dice that releases the maximum onion flavor, but be careful. Or omit this step and just dice as fine as you can.
- Any large, sweet tomato will work with this recipe (we used Purple Cherokee and Brandywine). Cherry tomatoes, with a large skin-to-fruit ratio, will still be good but a bit more tannic from the extra skins.
- Taste your peppers before adding to the recipe. Our Serranos were milder than usual and similar in hotness to Jalapenos. If using Jalapenos, expect 1 small pepper per 1 pound of tomatoes for a spicy salsa, 1/2 pepper per pound of tomatoes for a medium salsa, etc….
What You Get: A versatile, sweet and spicy salsa that keeps for a few weeks.
What You Need: A good blender (preferred), or a food processor.
How Long? 2 hours, but less than 10 minutes of active time.
(Makes 3-4 cups of salsa)
- 4 pounds of large, ripe tomatoes
- 2-4 medium-heat peppers like Jalapeno or Serrano, or to taste
- 3 large cloves of garlic, skinned
- 1/2 cup onion, finely diced (see notes and photos)
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 500 degrees. Wash and core the tomatoes. Wash the peppers. Skin the garlic. Place all on a baking sheet and put it in the oven.
- Roast the vegetables until the peppers and garlic slightly brown, about 15-20 minutes. Remove peppers and garlic from the baking sheet and set aside. Keep the tomatoes in the oven until the skins darken and crack, another 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven.
- Place the peppers, garlic and one large tomato (and water to moisten, if needed) into a blender or food processor and puree until completely smooth. Then add the rest of the tomatoes and scrape all of the juices and brown bits from the baking sheet into the blender. Puree until smooth.
- Pour the tomato mixture into a large pot. Add the salt to the mixture. Bring the mixture to a simmer over low leat and cook for 10-15 minutes or until the tomato mixture reduces and coats the back of a spoon. Once reduced, remove the pot from the heat and let the tomato mixture cool for at least an hour. Meanwhile, finely dice the onion (see notes and photos for technique) and set aside.
- Once the salsa cools, add diced onion to the tomato mixture, to taste. Adjust seasoning, to taste. Put the salsa in a sealable container and chill in the fridge. The salsa will keep for at least 10 days.
- Roasted Tomato and Corn Salsa (the quick version) (andtheycookedhappilyeverafter.wordpress.com)
- Salsa (jewbroadcooks.wordpress.com)
- The Salsa Queen of Laguna Beach (tinykitchenstories.com)
- Patty’s Pico Di Gallo (mycookinglife.com)
- Summer release and Salsa!! (ridingwiththetopdown.wordpress.com)
- The Best Salsa You’ll Ever Have (With Only Three Ingredients!) (joannagoddard.blogspot.com)