Roasted Jalapeño and Fresh Tomato Salsa

Homemade salsa is very forgiving so I frequently tweak the ingredients based on what's in our refrigerator. This particular salsa recipe was developed for my "famous" nachos. Similar to marinara sauce, managing the watery consistency of a fresh tomato dish requires some consideration.

Recipe

There are four different methods that I use to deal with watery salsa and each approach creates a different flavor profile (see "Instructions"). In all cases refrigerating the salsa overnight is important for melding.

Tools

Ingredients

  • 1 lb fresh heirloom tomatoes, about 3 medium, cored, large chop Note: Any delicious and ripe tomatoes will be fine.
  • 1/4 cup red onion, rough chop
  • 1/4 - 1/3 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 1/2 tsp fresh jalapeño, seeds removed Note: If I'm making this salsa just for dipping then I double the jalapeño since Rob and I like it spicy.
  • 1 1/2 tsp roasted jalapeño Note: I keep roasted jalapeños in the freezer. If you don't want to deal with the roasting process simply use all fresh.
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp lime juice Note: Sometimes I add a little more to brighten things up.

Jalapeños at Peacock Family Farms

Instructions

  • Add the red onion, jalapeño, garlic, cilantro, and lime juice to the food processor.
  • Pulse a few times, scraping the bowl once or twice.
  • Add the tomatoes and salt and then pulse a few times. Note: I like to keep the tomatoes pretty chunky since the simmering breaks them down.
  • Follow one of these four finishing methods based on what you're using the salsa for.
  • Drain and Reduce - This is now my preparation of choice when using the salsa for nachos. It's relatively rich and can stand up to a bigger dish.
    • Follow the recipe through the purée step, then place a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and pour everything into it. Gently move the mixture around to help remove the liquid.
    • Let the strainer rest over the bowl for a few minutes and then gently move the tomatoes around one more time. Note: There will still be some liquid in the mixture and that's fine. You're not trying to dry out the tomatoes.
    • Transfer the rendered liquid to a small saucepan and reduce over medium-high heat until it equals about 1 to 2 tablespoons.
    • Let the liquid cool and add desired amount back into the salsa.
  • Drain - If I want a quick fresh salsa for chips the "drain" method works perfectly.
    • Follow the recipe through the purée step, then dump everything into a fine mesh strainer.
    • Drain for a few seconds and then pour off into a bowl.
    • Thickness can be controlled by how long you let the salsa sit in the strainer. It's easy to make a nice and chunky salsa by simply minimizing how much you purée.
  • Simmer and Drain - When Rob and I were having dinner at Tacos Punta Cabras (cheap and delicious fish tacos in Santa Monica), I noticed that they were stirring a bowl of newly-made salsa while it sat on the stove. Why didn't I think of that?! This is a bit richer than the Drain method but still works great with chips, as an appetizer, and so forth.
    • Cook the salsa down to reduce the water content, concentrate the flavor, and maintain brightness.
    • The tomatoes will break down quite a bit during the the cooking process so keep that in mind. If the finished product is still too watery you can drain it briefly through a fine mesh strainer.
  • Roast and Drain - I found that roasting all of the tomatoes made the salsa too sweet. However, roasting about half of the tomatoes makes a rich salsa that goes well with spicy dishes. (On occasion I use this method for my nachos.) Simply substitute half of the fresh tomatoes in the "Drain" method with roasted.
  • Cool, transfer to an airtight container, and store in the refrigerator for a day before serving.
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