This is the sixth post in a series on salsas.
Salsa isn’t just for corn chips any more. This was my sudden mind-blowing, earth-shattering realization. It came way back during my college days after a working interview at one very famous Southwestern restaurant. They fed me dinner—a grilled tenderloin steak smothered in a smokey salsa—in exchange for my night’s work. I had only ever eaten steak plain, and my life would never be the same. I got the job. But more importantly, I opened my eyes to the possibilities of salsa.
Salsas, whether they’re made from chiles, tomatoes, tomatillos, avocados, or fruit, are an integral part of Mexican and Southwestern cuisines. They vary from mild to medium to spicy, and they can be served hot, at room temperature, or cold. Salsas can function as either dip or sauce (in fact, salsa is Spanish for sauce), and they are the perfect accompaniment to everything from eggs to tacos to rice and beans. They can transform a simple grilled steak, pork chop, chicken breast, fish fillet, or even veggie into a spectacular meal. It’s no wonder that salsa has overtaken ketchup as the most popular condiment in the U.S.
But while I’m singing the praises of salsa, I want to make clear that I mean homemade, from-scratch salsa. Homemade salsa is vibrant and fresh and delicious and healthy, and it can perk up anything you put it on. (In comparison, the store-bought stuff is appallingly expensive and completely tasteless.) And if there’s a batch in the fridge, it’s sure to inspire many amazing meals.
Roasted Tomato-Jalapeno Salsa
1 small yellow onion, halved
8 large Roma tomatoes
½ bunch cilantro, stems trimmed
Juice of 1 lime
Preheat the broiler. Arrange the onion and jalapenos on a foil-lined baking tray and broil for 7 to 8 minutes, or until the onion is lightly charred and the skin of the jalapenos is charred and blistered. Using tongs, turn the onion and jalapenos and broil another 6 to 7 minutes, or until the onion is lightly charred and the skin of the jalapenos is charred and blistered and the flesh is soft. Transfer the onion and jalapenos to a cutting board and let cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, arrange the tomatoes on the baking tray and broil for 14 to 16 minutes, or until the skin is charred and blistered. Using tongs, give the tomatoes a third of a turn and broil 6 to 7 minutes more, or until the skin is charred and blistered. Give the tomatoes a final third of a turn and continue to broil another 6 to 7 minutes, or until the skin is charred and blistered and the flesh is soft. Let cool to room temperature.
Chop the onion and stem and seed the jalapenos. Combine the onion, jalapenos, tomatoes, cilantro, and lime juice in a blender and blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt.
Makes about 5 cups. Heat level: medium/hot. If you like it hotter, add more jalapenos. This is like the salsa you'd find at any good Tex-Mex restaurant, and it's great on everything from chips to quesadillas and fajitas to breakfast tacos. If you prefer a smokier flavor, grill the onion, jalapenos, and tomatoes instead of broiling them. Keeps for several days tightly sealed in the refrigerator and freezes well. Serve warm or at room temperature.
More salsa recipes are available here.
Now, if you’re going to have great homemade salsa, you probably want some of this Guacamole to go with it.