A Roasty Makeover

July 8, 2008

I know it was only a long weekend ago that I was lamenting the (all too many) recipes that I made and posted about long ago, whining that I wanted to post and post and post again about my favorite recipes. But there is a very big upshot that I failed to mention. In fear that the powers-that-be will revoke my glass-half-full badge, I think it’s best to mention the bright side now. And that is, of course, that this blog has inspired (or perhaps “forced” or “cajoled,” but let’s stick with the more positive “inspired”) me to push past my culinary comfort zone, leaving the recipes I can make with my eyes closed in my wake.

There are times, though, when I need a middle ground—when I don’t want to rely on my old standbys, but I don’t want to be beholden to a recipe either. Today’s salsa fits snugly in that middle ground. It’s a variation on the salsa that I’ve made a bajillion times: a make-over, if you will. Instead of combining raw tomatoes, garlic and peppers as usual, I’ve roasted them here, which deepens their flavors and, in this case, compensated for the rather sad roma tomatoes I was stuck with. And then, instead of chopping the veggies, I briefly whizzed them in the food processor.

(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)

What resulted was a rustic puree of colors and textures, which looked not all that unlike jarred salsa (I’ll admit: “This stuff’s made in New York City!?!” ran through my head). Spiked with lime juice and seasoned carefully with coarse sea salt, though, the flavors were so much fresher, cleaner and brighter. I made this for our fourth of July barbecue (also known, as I mentioned, as our belated Cinco de Mayo fiesta, thanks to the Mexican menu), along with a variation on my standard guacamole, which featured a few of the remaining roasted peppers and cloves of garlic from the salsa. Sadly, there are no photos of the guacamole, but that means I’ll just have to make it again soon. Oh, darn. Wow, I am soooo good at this glass-half-full business.

Roasted Tomato Salsa

8 to 10 roma tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1 poblano pepper, halved lengthwise (remove the seeds and ribs, if you’re concerned about heat)
1 jalapeno pepper, halved lengthwise (remove the seeds and ribs, if you’re concerned about heat)
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons roughly chopped cilantro
1/2 cup roughly chopped red onion
2 to 3 tablespoons lime juice
sea salt, to taste

Preheat the oven to 425. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and set aside.

In a large bowl, toss the tomatoes, peppers and garlic with the oil, salt and pepper. Transfer the oiled vegetables to the prepared baking sheet and spread them into a single layer. Roast the vegetables for 20 minutes. At this point, start checking every 5 minutes and removing any vegetables that appear browned and softened (for me, this was the garlic first, then the peppers and finally the tomatoes). Once all the vegetables have roasted, allow them to cool slightly.

Transfer the slightly cooled vegetables to a food processor, fitted with a metal blade. Add the cilantro, red onion and 2 tablespoons of the lime juice. Pulse about a dozen times, to achieve the texture of a chunky puree. If the salsa is too thick, add more lime juice. Salt to taste (this is very important; add a little bit, try it and repeat as necessary). Either serve immediately or cover the salsa and refrigerate it, serving it cold.


17 Responses to “A Roasty Makeover”

  1. Pam Says:

    I love roasting salsa. Simple yet perfect. Nice job.

  2. Tracy Says:

    I love making homemade salsa, the thought of roasting the vegetables sounds mouth watering. I am going to make this for sure. Thanks!

  3. GirlCanBake Says:

    What a gorgeous salsa! Roasting makes the world a better place. And I love that you were just slightly out of your comfort zone. 🙂 Great post!

  4. foodluvin Says:

    I am a big salsa fan. This looks fantastic! I am going to try this only thinking I am going to grill the veggies instead of roasting. I will report back.

  5. Dragon Says:

    I love salsa and this one looks divine! Thanks for the recipe.

  6. Cedar Says:

    That looks absolutely divine. I am saving this recipe for the weekend!

  7. Olga Says:

    this looks delicious. my sister goes to Culinary Institute of America and brought me some roasted salsa. I think we are going to do one of those dishes where you cook an egg inside the salsa. But it’s also delicious on ciabata with prosciuto (I’m probably completely misspelling it)

  8. Katiebaby Says:

    This sounds great…..roasting the veggies is a grand idea…..wonder if adding cumin would make it any better? Will get back to you on that.

  9. grace Says:

    can you bottle that up and send me some? it looks absolutely perfect to me–no chips required. 🙂

  10. Pam: Me too. Thanks!

    Tracy: Homemade salsa has to be one of the simplest things, but you’re right, everyone loves it. Hope you try it!

    GirlCanBake: Agree on roasting—even in the summer.

    foodluvin: I really like the grilling idea. I’m excited to hear how that works. It would also solve the whole “why on earth did I turn my oven up to 425 in July” problem.

    Dragon: Thanks!

    Cedar: Weekend-worthy? I’m so honored!

    Olga: I don’t know the egg-in-the-salsa thing! You’ll have to report back. Also, is there anything that’s not good with ciabatta and proscuitto?

    Katiebaby: I’m of the opinion that cumin makes just about anything taste better. It’s definitely the spice I go through most quickly. Please do report back!

    grace: This was straight-from-the-spoon kind of stuff. Not that I’d know. Wish I had some to jar up for you!

  11. ben Says:

    I’ve done a similar roasted salsa. Instead of roasting in the oven, try roasting in grill with charcoal/wood. I use a Weber 22″ and bank the coals to one side.

  12. Nate Says:

    Roasting not only concentrates the flavor, it also concentrates the healthy antioxidants. I used that concept to make my roasted tomato onion and pepper gazpacho.

    I love roasted salsa. The ones they make at Chevy’s is so good, I could just eat salsa and chips all day long. Can’t wait till my own garden’s tomatoes, onions and peppers are ready for harvesting.

  13. ben: You and foodluvin (see above) should get together for a grilled salsa party. And, if you do, perhaps you’ll invite me?

    Nate: Sounds like a win-win: more delicious and healthier. I’ll take it! I bet your fresh-from-the-garden salsas will be delicious.

  14. Kevin Says:

    That roasted salsa sounds great!

  15. mari Says:

    This looks like a salsa lovers heaven!

  16. weyn Says:

    Hi! May I ask, what difference does it make when you boil the mixture, or slow cook it, from refrigerating for a few hours… other than the latter is easier to do? Haha
    Thanks in advance! I’m trying out your recipe 🙂

  17. weyn: I’m confused by your question. Are you asking if you can boil instead of roasting? Let me know and I’ll do my best to answer.

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