I’m always on the lookout for a good salsa recipe. For whatever reason, I’ve always had a hard time making pico de gallo (the standard chopped salsa that you find in Mexican restaurants) and I could never get the seasonings right on more pureed, smoother sauces.
That all changed when I got this book, which is basically a bunch of salsa recipes and then some suggestions on how to use them in cooking. I’ve tweaked Rick Bayless’ recipe quite a bit. For instance, I usually use canned tomatoes instead of fresh. Cheap plum tomatoes never seem to be juicy enough, and really nice expensive heirloom tomatoes (which he says to use) are too spendy for me. If I’m going to be dropping $5+ on funny looking farmer’s market tomatoes, I’m sure as hell not going to cook them.
Anyway, this is the same basic technique as the salsa verde for the chilaquiles that I made a few weeks ago: broil your vegetables until they’re blackened, them puree. Since you’re using canned tomatoes, they won’t blister in the same way (since they have no skin) but they will color a bit:
I will take another opportunity to talk about how much I love my immersion blender. Before I got the $30 SmartStick, I had a $4 Goodwill stick blender that worked fine as well – there’s no need to shell out a bunch of money.
Roasted Tomato Salsa
makes about 4 cups
2 28 ounce cans whole tomatoes, drained well
1 serrano chile
8 cloves garlic, not peeled
1/2 medium onion, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
1 small bunch cilantro, stems cut off and leaves roughly chopped
1 tablespoon cider vinegar or unseasoned rice wine vinegar, plus more to taste
Place a cooling rack inside a foil-lined cookie sheet. Set an oven rack to the second-highest position and turn the broiler on high. Cut each tomato in half, place on the rack cut side down. Place the chile, garlic, and onion on the rack as well. Sprinkle the tomatoes with about 1 teaspoon of salt and broil on high heat until the tomatoes are slightly blistered (like in the photo above), about 6-7 minutes and the onions and garlic are wilty, fragrant, and slightly browned. Set aside to cool.
Once cooled, cut the stem off of the serrano and cut it in half. Slip the garlic cloves out of their papery skins. Place the onions, garlic, and half of the chile in a medium bowl and add 1/4 cup water. Puree with an immersion blender until mostly smooth, about 30 seconds. Add the cilantro and puree a bit more, until the cilantro is distributed. Add the tomatoes and puree in quick pulses until chunky-smooth. Taste for spiciness – if it needs more heat, add that other half chile. Remember that it will taste less spicy when served cold, so it’s OK if it seems pretty hot right now.
Stir in another teaspoon of salt and the cider vinegar and refrigerate until cold. Taste again before serving – it will probably need a bit more salt and vinegar.