Restaurant Style Salsa

Nothing beats fresh salsa, and nothing beats "I made that myself." It's easy to make, and it's a great use for tomatoes and peppers that have passed their prime. That's right. Everyone's favorite reason for going to a Mexican restaurant is really just a way for the restaurant to use up tomatoes and peppers they'd otherwise have to throw away.

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs. fresh, whole tomatoes
  • 1 large green bell pepper
  • 0 or more hot peppers, as much of whatever variety you prefer
  • 1 medium onion
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1 can of tomatoes (See note.)
  • juice of 1 or 2 limes
  • 1 bunch cilantro, thoroughly washed
  • salt to taste

Note: If you are using tomatoes from your garden, you can skip the canned. But grocery store tomatoes are grown for color, durability, appearance: Everything but flavor. It doesn't matter if you use diced, petite diced, whole, or crushed, but the sad specimens from the produce department need a little boost.

Equipment

You'll need a blender of some sort. A hand blender is ideal.

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 425°F/220°C.
  2. Break off and discard stems and leaves from the tomatoes and peppers. Trim the "hair" from the onion and peel the papery outer skin from the onion and garlic. Cut the onion in half.
  3. Put the tomatoes, onions, garlic, and peppers on a sheet pan in the upper middle part of the oven and roast for 30 minutes. The skins should be charring.
  4. Dump the roasted vegetables into a steep walled container--a Dutch oven is perfect--and add the canned tomatoes, cilantro (stems and all), some lime juice, and some salt. (You can chill everything now if you want and blend it later.)
  5. Blend until it's as smooth as you like.
  6. Taste and add more salt or acid as desired. Go a little heavy because once it's chilled, those flavors will be muted.
  7. Chill and serve.

Yield

Two or three quarts, so there is plenty to share. It will keep well in the refrigerator for at least a week, and it freezes pretty well indefinitely.