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.