Saturday, September 17, 2011

Spice Up Your Life: Quick and Easy Roasted Tomato Salsa

Hey all, I am finally back to blogging after what seems like forever!!  I was super busy interning at a restaurant over the summer and I had no time at all to blog.  I did however get to know tons of amazing people at work and they taught me how to cook lots of tasty bites to share with you.  This is one of them.

I was one of the few non-Mexican workers in the kitchen at my internship.  I was referred to as the "gringa" every day.  My co-workers would bring in Mexican dishes all the time and it really whetted my appetite to learn the culture through their food.  Finally after eating my fair share of carnitas, molletes, and chilequiles over the course of a month or so, I  got up the courage to ask for a recipe.  This being my second summer interning at the Mecca, I knew most of the staff already so I went to my friend Julia and I started to ask her about chile peppers and what the differences were.  I then segwayed into telling her how delicious the salsa verde that she brought in the day before was.  I figured if I could shower her with flattery, then maybe she would let me in on her secrets.  I was right!  I quickly grabbed a pen and some paper and the salsa recipes started flowing out of her mouth almost faster than I could write them down.  I began to ask questions about steps and making notes of what to look for when shopping and how things should smell and taste when made correctly.  I left work that day eager to stop at the grocery on the way home to grab all the ingredients, whip up a batch of salsa, and bring it in to work tomorrow so it could be taste tested by the pros.

The next day, I brought in a batch of this roasted tomato salsa and my coworkers bestowed upon me the status of "Honorary Mexican".  I haven't been referred to as "gringa" at work since!  Now that I'm on the "inside", I've gotten a lot more recipes that I am eager to share with you and have become more and more comfortable using popular Mexican ingredients when cooking.  How I lived without dried chili peppers and tomatillos before now I will never know.

This salsa is super easy and can be made to taste so feel free to play around with it to fit your own spice level (you can always add spice but it's hard to take away!).  I made this batch with my roommate Ben who we can all thank for the improvement to my blog layout and the new photos of food that will be gracing its pages. Alright, enough talking Liz.  Let's make some salsa! 

Julia's Roasted Tomato Salsa

Equipment you will need:
  • An oven
  • A blender
8 Plum Tomatoes
3-4 Tomatillos
2-4 Jalepenos (depending on how spicy you like it)
2 Cloves of Garlic
1 Medium Onion (less if needed)
1 Dried Guajillo Chili (found at most international grocers)
1 Dried Puya Chili (found at most international grocers)
1/4 Bunch of Cilantro
Salt (to taste)
1-3 Cups Hot (really hot) Water
  1. Turn your oven to broil.  Line a baking sheet with foil.  Core the tomatoes and tomatillos and place on the lined baking sheet along with the jalepeno peppers and peeled onion (cut the ends off too.).
  2. Broil, turning a few times during cooking (everything will blacken, deal with it), until the tomatoes are bursting and the tomatillos are soft.  The jalepeno skin will be bubbly.
  3. While everything is broiling, take a small pan and place it over a medium heat. Peel the garlic and toast in the pan until just heated through.  Remove the stem and seeds from the Guajillo and the Puya Chilis and toast in the pan until fragrant and warm.
  4. Once the tomatoes, tomatillos, onion and jalepenos come out of the oven, place all but the jalepenos in the blender.  Take the jalepenos and seed, de-stem and de-vein them according to how much spice you want.  The more seeds and vein you add, the spicier your salsa.  Add it to the blender.  Also add the Guajillo and Puya chilis as well as the garlic, cilantro and salt to taste.  Add about a half cup of the hot water to the blender.
  5. Put the top on your blender and put a towel over the top.  With one hand FIRMLY holding the blender top on, pulse the salsa until it is the desired thickness adding more hot water as necessary.  I like my salsa thinner and not chunky so I blend the heck out of it.
  6.  Let the salsa cool to room temperature and enjoy it on everything!
 All of my ingredients assembled
Removing the seeds from the dried Guajillo Chili Pepper
 Yummy Charred Tomatillos
 This is what the tomatoes and jalapenos will look like when they come out of the oven
 Some delicious chicken tacos that Ben made with our salsa!
 Looks delicious!
     This salsa is super delicious and inexpensive to make.  My favorite thing to do with it (besides sit and eat it with a spoon) is to saute cooked sliced chicken with a bit of olive oil, diced tomato, and onion in a pan.  I add some salsa and cook until bubbling.  I pour it into a bowl and top it with raw diced onion, chopped cilantro, and lots of fresh lime juice!  I call it Chicken Taco Soup and would eat it for every meal if I could!

    Enjoy this recipe and come back soon to see what I'm cooking in my kitchen!  Until then, keep experimenting in the kitchen, and remember, food is love (so share it!).