This year I thought I’d try making a different kind of salsa than my—I will proudly say—wildly popular Super Simple Salsa for Canning. This one is similar, and a bit more work, but has more of a restaurant style flavor and texture. I roast most of the vegetables for a very rich, deep flavor addition. The texture is completely smooth because I used my immersion blender on it.
The best part? No blanching the tomatoes. No, I’m not crazy! Since I planned on pureeing the entire mixture anyway, I wanted to see what it would be like if I just let it all cook down. The results were phenomenal. By the end, I had a smooth salsa with absolutely no tomato skins, and an addictively spicy, sweet, and savory flavor. As my boyfriend said, “This is the best salsa you’ve ever made!”
15 lbs tomatoes, rinsed, with the cores taken out
3 medium sweet onions (such as Walla Walla, Mayan, or even yellow)
2 green bell peppers
9 habanero peppers
12 garlic cloves
1 6oz can of tomato paste
3 tsp salt (more to taste)
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
1 bunch of cilantro
1 ½ cup white vinegar
1/2 cup of lime juice
3/4 cup white sugar
Yields about 12 half-pints (I like to keep these in smaller jars for easier gift-giving)
1. Set the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with tinfoil.
2. While the oven heats up, quarter all the tomatoes. Toss them in a huge a pot over medium heat, and allow them to start cooking down. Use a wooden spoon to crush and stir them, ensuring they don’t burn. You’ll be doing this during the entire time you prep the rest of the ingredients.
3. Meanwhile, quarter the onions and spread them across a baking sheet. Remove the seeds and stem of the bell peppers. Quarter them and put them on the baking sheet.
4. Using gloves if you have them (to prevent the spread of those hot pepper oils) remove the stem of the jalapeños. Cut in half, lengthwise. If you want this salsa extremely spicy, leave the seeds. Otherwise, remove them. Pop the stems off the habaneros. Remove seeds if desired (I left them in for spice, but the salsa didn’t end up being unbearably hot). Add to the baking sheets.
5. Peel the garlic, leave whole, and spread across the baking sheets.
6. Toss all the baking sheet items in a drizzle of olive oil to help the roasting process. Roast in oven for about an hour, or until you’ve got some good color on all the veg.
7. After you put the vegetables in the oven, your tomatoes should be getting soft. This is when I used my immersion blender to puree them until completely smooth. This does take a bit of work. If you only have a blender or food processor, use that. But be sure to blend it extremely well. All the blending helps the tomato skin get small and eventually dissolve into the mix. Keep cooking this tomato puree for the hour the vegetables are in the oven. Be sure to keep only at a low simmer and stir every seven minutes or it WILL burn!
8. When the vegetables are done, remove them from the oven. Pop them in a food processor and pulse until everything is minced. Add to the tomato pot.
9. Add the tomato paste, salt, coriander, and cumin. Let the mixture cook for at least two hours on a low simmer, stirring every seven minutes. Eventually tomato water will start surfacing on the top. This is very clear liquid that doesn’t have much flavor. Skim this off with a measuring cup whenever possible. It helps the reducing happen faster and the salsa will be less watery.
10. After the two hours are up, add the vinegar, lime juice, and sugar. Finely chop the cilantro and add. Let it cook another 20 minutes. Give it a taste and add more seasonings as necessary.
11. Prepare your canning station by bringing your water bath to a boil. Sterilize jars, rings, and lids. Ladle hot salsa into hot jars. Process for 10 minutes.