Rustic Roasted Tomato and Garlic Salsa

I’ve been on a big Mexican food kick recently.  It may have to do with a new cookbook purchase, but I’m pretty sure these Mexican cravings have more to do with my craving warmer weather than anything else.  While my friends in the South and Texas have planted their gardens already, I gave an exuberant shout of joy this past weekend when I saw that my raised vegetable beds were once again visible.  After looking out at a perpetually snow-covered yard since the day after Christmas (no joke), this one sign of spring was a big one for me.  And if you’re in the need for some heat as well, this salsa definitely brings it.  Both smoky and sweet at the same time, the heat sneaks up on you and it quite literally lit me on fire.  I must have gotten an extraordinarily hot jalapeño because I made the full recipe as written and even though I cut out the second jalapeño, my eyelids were sweating.  It was bad…but this salsa is just so addictive that I kept going back.  Adjust the amount and/or kind of peppers you use to your taste but don’t skip the dry roasting process.  Not only is it the coolest thing ever to actually roast garlic and peppers on your stovetop (in 10-15 minutes instead of heating the oven up for 30-45 minutes!), but the roasted garlic flavor can’t be supplemented.

  • Prep Time: 5min
  • Cook Time: 15min
  • Yield: about 2 cups

Ingredients

2 fresh jalapeño chiles (or 4 serranos, 1 or 2 habaneros or practically any fresh chiles)
2 cloves garlic, unpeeled
½ cup finely chopped white onion
1 15-oz can diced tomatoes in juice (preferably fired-roasted)
1/3 cup (loosely packed) roughly chopped cilantro
Lime juice to taste
Salt

Instructions

  • 01

    Set a small skillet over medium heat.  Lay the chiles and garlic in the skillet and dry-roast until soft and blotchy black in spots, about 10 minutes for the chiles, about 15 minutes for the garlic.

  • 02

    While the chiles and garlic are roasting, scoop the chopped onion into a strainer and rinse under cold water.  Shake off the excess water and pour into a medium bowl.

  • 03

    Pull the stems off the chiles and peel the papery skins off the garlic. Scoop them into a food processor and pulse until they are finely chopped.  Add the tomatoes, with their juice, re-cover and pulse a few more times, until the mixture is as coarse or smooth as you want your salsa to be.

  • 04

    Pour the tomato mixture into the bowl with the onion.  Add the cilantro and stir thoroughly.  Thin with a little water if necessary to give the salsa an easily spoonable consistency.  Taste and season with the lime juice and salt (usually about ½ teaspoon).  If not serving within an hour or two, cover and refrigerate.  If you don’t plan to serve it within a few hours, wait until you’re ready to serve the salsa before adding the onions and cilantro.