This Mexican fire-roasted salsa is packed with a slightly smoky spicy flavor, comes together in 30 minutes, and makes for a truly versatile condiment! Plus, all you need is 7 ingredients for this gluten-free, vegan roasted tomato salsa.
If you're using a dried chili, you'll need to rehydrate it. Place it in hot water (or vegetable stock) for about 30 minutes (the time will vary based on the size of the chili) - you just need 1-2 cups of hot liquid.You can use the leftover soaking liquid to add to stocks and soups.
Step 2: Char the ingredients
Wash all the ingredients.
Then it's time to "fire roast" the ingredients. There are three ways to go about charring the ingredients:Grill: during the summer months, you can easily char the ingredients on the grill. Grill for several minutes (about 3-5 minutes), then flip over and repeat until evenly charred.Over flame: similar to using a grill, you can cook the ingredients over an open flame (or charcoal BBQ) until well blackened on each side.Broiler: spread the ingredients across an oven tray and spray lightly with a bit of oil. Then, cook under the broiler, occasionally turning, until charred, beginning to shrivel with blackened spots (usually 10-15 minutes).The small chilies will take less time, so remove the various ingredients from the pan as needed. You could also, optionally, peel the onion before roasting and chop it in half or quarters for more tender, charred results.Alternatively, you can bake them in the oven. Preheat the oven to 400ºF/200ºC and then roast the ingredients (lightly oiled) for between 15-20 minutes, until softened and slightly browned. For more charred flavor, you can broil them at the end.
Allow the ingredients to cool for a few minutes before removing anything you won't be adding to the roasted salsa - the onion peel, tomato stems, chili stems, and seeds, etc.
Step 3: Process the roasted tomato salsa
For a chunkier, traditional fire-roasted salsa, you can use a molcajete (mortar and pestle) to grind the cooked ingredients into slightly chunky salsa. To do so, I recommend starting with the salt and garlic, then adding the onions (finely chopped after roasting), then the chilies, tomatoes (with the seasonings), and finally the roughly chopped herbs.Alternatively, use a small food processor (or blender). Simply add all the ingredients to the processor (including the lime, salt, and garlic) and blend to your desired texture - though a little chunky is traditional.
Taste and adjust any of the seasonings to personal preference. You can then serve the roasted tomato salsa immediately. However, for the best flavor, I recommend allowing it to sit in the fridge for 2-3 hours first (or even overnight) to allow the flavors to develop. The results are truly heavenly!
How to Store
Store: store the leftover roasted tomato salsa in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 5-7 days.Freeze: you may also freeze leftover roasted tomato salsa, though the textures of the veggies can change upon thawing. To freeze, I recommend either adding to an ice cube tray (to portion it) or add to a freezer-safe airtight container, leaving a little headspace so it can expand when freezing. Store for up to two months and allow to thaw in the fridge before enjoying again.
Removing the tomato skins: you can enjoy this fire-roasted salsa with or without the tomato skins (which are very easy to remove after roasting). I prefer to leave them on as they're broken down into small pieces, anyway.
Wear gloves when handling chilies: especially when removing the seeds, as the capsicum can linger on your skin and cause burning- especially if you touch your mouth/eyes, etc. (don't!).
Adjust the heat: if you're not sure how much of the chilies you can handle, I recommend adding 1/3 into the processor, to begin with, then increasing, to taste. If you like your food spicy, feel free to leave in some of the jalapeño seeds.
Leave it to "marinate": right after making, the fire-roasted salsa will be at its most potent. I recommend leaving it for at least 2-3 hours, if not overnight, to allow it to mellow out slightly and the flavors to develop.
The "cheat" method: you can make a cheat "fire-roasted" salsa in minutes by using a can of diced fire-roasted tomatoes and blending it with the remaining ingredients. However, I recommend you still leave it to "marinate" for several hours, especially as the majority of ingredients are raw, so more pungent.
Embrace the char: this will add tons of flavor, so feel free to char the ingredients until well blackened.
Optional add-ins and recipe variations:
Sugar: if your tomatoes are particularly acidic, you may want to add a bit of sugar to the salsa to balance the flavors. I recommend adding ½ teaspoon to begin and increasing to taste.
Cumin: just a pinch (½ teaspoon max) of cumin can add tons of flavor.
Chipotle: using a smoky chipotle in adobo sauce in place of the dried chili not only adds heat but even more smokiness to the salsa.
Tomatillo: for a similar salsa using tomatillos - check out my recipe for Salsa Verde.
Avocado: after processing the roasted tomato salsa, you could fold in some finely chopped avocado pieces. However, be aware that this will reduce the shelf life of the salsa to 1-2 days.
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