After carefully testing and tasting and testing some more, I came to the conclusion that what I didn't like about most homemade salsas was the level of chunk and the lack of flavor. Sure, the ratios changed here and there, but the overall recipe remains the same, and the taste is always a bit too raw for me, even when the salsa had been simmered on the stove sufficiently.
Roasting and grilling the vegetables that are added into the salsa gives it a whole new dimension. Instead of a one-note wonder, you get a full mouthful of flavor. Plus, it smells divine, uses up all the tomatoes you just pulled out of the garden and cans nicely so that you can relive the experience six months from now when the air is cold.
Grilled Hot and Spicy Tomato Salsa
5 pounds meaty tomatoes (about 7 cups)
2 large whole red onions
5-6 garden salsa peppers
1 green bell pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
5 cloves garlic
1 ½ cups lime juice (bottled)
1 tablespoon salt
¼ cup packed cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon cumin
Wash your hands before touching anything that will be canned. Cut large tomatoes in half and rub skins with olive oil. Place on grill over medium-high heat, turning once, until skins blister and char slightly. Slice peppers in half and remove seeds if desired. Wear gloves to avoid getting capsaicin on your hands. You can leave the seeds in for hotter salsa. Rub peppers and onion with oil and grill until charred. You can also roast the tomatoes, peppers and onions in the oven at 400º F until charred.
Remove charred skins if desired. Add tomatoes, peppers and onions to a food processor and pulse until chunky. Place in a large pot over a medium burner. Add in garlic, lime juice and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and boil for 10 minutes. Add in cilantro and cumin and continue to simmer for another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Can salsa in 8-ounce or pint-sized jars. Ladle salsa into sterilized jars, leaving ½" of space at the top. Wipe rims and place pretreated lids on. Process cans in a boiling water bath canner for 20 minutes. Remove salsa from the water bath and allow to cool on a cloth-covered surface.
Any jars that do not pop and seal properly can be stored in the fridge and eaten within a week. Sealed jars can be stored in a dark, cool place until ready to consume within 12 months.
Photos by Shaina Olmanson
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