This all started when a good friend brought over a package of gluten free oatmeal apricot mini cookies and told me to please read the back and recreate them. In some way, I was flattered that she found me capable of unraveling a recipe like that. She has my complete empathy at the moment for some tough stuff she's going through, so of course I did it. I took my favorite cookie recipes, read the ingredients on the back, did some very scientific exchanges of sweeteners, flours etc., tested one cookie at a time and added from there making sure they'd hold together. They didn't have nearly the same texture as the package, a more homemade shape and tenderness (which I prefer, even if they didn't mimic the suggested cookie) and the taste, while not the same, was close enough. I apparently gave a mouse a cookie, literally, because then she asked me to please write a recipe for salsa. So here we are. Apparently my bleeding heart takes recipe requests.
I've written about the tomatoes at our local farm in summers past. I'd guess you have a place for great tomatoes too, and this is the time to use them. For something as simple as salsa, the better the ingredients, the better the end result. Something tells me you've heard that before? There isn't much to cover up a mediocre tomato here. I charred most of the vegetables, and leave a few raw to stir in at the end. This gives some of the sweeter tomato and onion flavor, while also including the sharpness of the raw onion and texture of tomato and pepper chunks. Take liberties to play around with the amounts depending how you like it. Just promise me you'll find great tomatoes.
GRILLED SERRANO SALSA // Makes about 2.5 cups
I hesitate to call this mild because so much will depend on the heat of your chiles. Mine were not that hot, so even with two and their seeds, this salsa was very mild. With the quantity of other vegetables, it should keep things from getting too spicy, but you could add one at a time to your processor if you know you are super sensitive to heat.
- 1 1/4 lbs. tomatoes (roma, beefsteak, heirloom - whatever smells amazing)
- 1 small red onion
- 1 bell pepper
- 2 serrano chiles
- 3 cloves garlic, in their peel
- 1 tsp. smoked salt or sea salt
- 1 large, juicy lime
- 1/3 cup well chopped cilantro
Clean and heat your grill to medium high heat or preheat the broiler.
Slice the tomatoes, onion and bell pepper into large wedges. Pull aside one wedge each of the tomato, pepper and two of the red onion. These will get added at the end. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the tomatoes, onion, pepper, serrano and garlic cloves in a thin coat of oil with just a pinch of salt. Grill the items over direct heat for about 10-15 minutes until charred on the edges, keeping the garlic cloves in a little foil pouch to soften. If using the broiler, set the tray in the upper third and broil about 15-20 minutes until the edges char, but the vegetables to do not completely break down.
Set everything aside to cool completely. Discard the stems of the serranos, leaving the seeds in tact and push the garlic out of it's skin. In a food processor, pulse the cooled, grilled vegetables with the serranos and garlic until just chopped up. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Finely chop the reserved raw tomato, pepper and onions and add them to the salsa. Stir them in along with the salt, lime juice and cilantro. Adjust seasoning to your taste - a pinch of sugar if the tomatoes aren't super tasty, chipotle powder if you like it smoky/hotter, more cilantro if you are me, etc.
Salsa will keep for about a week.