Do you love a bowl of salsa, the kind you get at the salsa bar and you can’t stop dipping chips into, and then you get your meal and you’re full but you still slather some more of the delicious salsa on top? That’s the kind of roasted tomato salsa we’re going to make here.
In terms of sales, in 2016 salsa was the best-selling condiment in the US. However, you don’t want food that tastes like it was made in a lab, which is how most jarred or premade salsa (even the refrigerated kind in the supermarket) often tastes.
I’m here to show you how to make fresh, delicious, smoky tomato salsa with a punch, the kind that is not only for dipping in chips, but amazing for making Huevos Rancheros, spooning into tacos, and pouring all over your enchiladas.
With tomato season finally approaching, making this authentic tomato salsa gets even easier. Make sure to use fresh Roma tomatoes at their peak of ripeness, no longer firm, deep red in color, and just crying out to be used. While some recipes call for canned tomatoes, you obviously can’t get the freshness, nor the smoky, charred flavor you want from canned tomatoes.
Make sure to use fresh Roma tomatoes at their peak of ripeness, no longer firm, deep red in color, and just crying out to be used. While some recipes call for canned tomatoes, you obviously can’t get the freshness nor the smoky, charred flavor you want from canned tomatoes.
Instead, you’re going to take those fresh tomatoes, and remove the core at the top by sticking in a sharpy, pointy knife and cutting out a small cone. Then you’ll grill or broil them until deeply blackened all around. Take your cue from the photos. While the grill does add to the smoky flavor, I prefer the broiler because you don’t have to worry about parts of the tomato falling through the grates. Especially as the tomatoes get deeply cooked and begin to soften up, cooking them on a sheet pan makes it a lot easier.
And to keep cleanup easy, be sure to place foil over your sheet pan. You will cook these tomatoes until they are black, and then cook them some more. And then turn them to cook more on the other side. It’s fairly hard to burn tomatoes-the skin will char first and peel away, but there’s so much water in the flesh that you’d have to leave the tomatoes quite some time to burn them too much.
At the same time the tomatoes are roasting, you can roast your peppers and garlic. Of course, these will be finished much sooner than the tomatoes. You want to allow the peppers to blister and the garlic to become golden on the outside and soft to the squeeze. You will want to place the garlic out near the edge of the oven rack on the sheet pan, where the heat is less intense. This allows it to cook more slowly but a bit longer, allowing the garlicky notes to develop. Be sure to watch everything carefully as it’s cooking.
Use gloves when peeling the skins off the chiles so you don’t get any capsaicin (the stuff that makes chiles hot) on your hands, and be sure not to touch your eyes. Remove the seeds from the chiles. The spiciness of the chiles is in the flesh and the veins, not in the seeds, as many blog posts, chefs, and others might believe.
To really get the flavor to pop in this recipe, you are going to use plenty of salt, some lemon, and a small amount of cider vinegar. All of these help build flavor. We are layering flavor upon flavor here, with some acidity from the tomatoes, lemon and cider vinegar, heat from the peppers, and warmth from the garlic.
I like to use a Vitamix to blend up the tomatoes, garlic, and chiles, and pulse it on the 5 setting on the dial. A regular blender will do this just fine too. If you’re blending the hot tomatoes, be sure to start at low speed with the top tightly fixed on, but allowing for the steam to escape through the top hole for the tamper if your blender has one. If not, gently cover the lid whole with a towel.
You’ll add the cilantro at the very end so that it stays green in the sauce. Be sure to let the salsa sit several hours to allow the flavors to blend before serving.
If you try this recipe, let us know by leaving a comment, rating it, and tagging a photo #thestraightdish on Instagram. Cheers, friends!
This rich, smoky salsa is far better than anything from a jar or store bought. It's quick, easy, and delicious, and will have you putting it on everything from chips, to eggs to tacos.
- 10 each Roma Tomatoes
- 2 cloves roasted garlic
- 1 whole serrano pepper may use jalapeño instead
- 1/4 cup white onion, finely diced
- 1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons salt additional to taste
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoon vegetable oil
Place the tomatoes on a foil-lined half sheetpan (11" x 17"), and roast for 15-20 minutes on each side until deeply blackened.
Place whole head of garlic and serrano peppers on a sheet pan and cook garlic until golden, and chiles until skin has blistered. Wearing gloves, remove skin and seeds from chile.
Place garlic, serrano chile, lemon juice, salt, and 8 of the tomatoes in a blender along with salt. If still hot, start at very low speed. Pulse on medium speed until thoroughly chopped. If you prefer a chunky salsa, pulse quickly until you get your preferred texture.
Once cooled, add cilantro and onion and vegetable oil Stir well. Allow to sit 2-4 hours for flavors to blend before serving.
You can substitute Jalapeño peppers for Serranos. They are a bit milder though can still be very spicy. Roast them just the same way.
This recipe makes about 3 cups.