Tonight I am making a second batch of “Zesty Roasted Pepper & Garlic Salsa”. It’s really, really damn good. In my opinion, of course. But if you were to eat some, I’m fairly sure it would be your opinion, too.


The recipe is based on the “Zesty Salsa” recipe from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving (Judy Kingry, Lauren Devine) and was the perfect way to use up the overabundance of peppers and tomatoes on my counter.

Semi-hot peppers

At a friend’s suggestion (yes, yes, you get credit for this, L!) I roasted most of the peppers, some of the onion, and all the garlic (using one head of roasted for each clove of minced that the recipe called for). The results were smooth, smoky, rich and comfortably spicy. It’s so fine, I feel completely compelled to share.

Roasted pepper-garlic salsa

Zesty Roasted Pepper Garlic Salsa

  • 10 cups peeled, diced tomatoes (about 6-7 pounds tomatoes)
  • 7 1/2 cups chopped peppers: I used approximately 5 cups of a combination of roasted, skinned jalapenos, hot cherry peppers, hot italian frying peppers, yellow and red peppers. The rest were unroasted, seeded and diced semi-hot peppers.
  • 5 cups chopped onion: I used about 1 cup roasted red onion, 3 1/2 cups chopped fresh yellow onion, and 1/2 cup chopped fresh red onion
  • 5 heads of roasted garlic
  • 1 1/4 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1 T dried cilantro flakes (totally optional)
  • 1 T salt (I like kosher, but use what you have)

A few notes on the ingredients:

If you can, use Roma (or a similar paste-type) tomatoes. Globe tomatoes are pretty watery, which means your salsa will be watery, too. However, both paste and globe tomatoes are tasty, and I don’t mind watery salsa. You can also squeeze your tomatoes before measuring them if you want to reduce the amount of liquid.

To roast peppers, you can hold them over the flame of your gas stove or put them on the grill, but I like the oven. I can do a lot of peppers at once without a lot of hassle. Basically you just put your peppers in a single layer on a baking sheet, stick them in the oven at 400 degrees F for 20-30 minutes, turning every 10 minutes or so, and that’s it. The skins will turn blackish in spots and will split and blister. This is perfect. Let them get mushy and look like used-up balloons. Take them out of the oven and put them directly into a paper bag, close up the bag, and steam them for about 10 minutes more before peeling/seeding and chopping them. A tip: cover your baking sheet with aluminum or tin foil before roasting to make clean-up easier. Oh, and wear gloves when you’re peeling and chopping them.

Roasted Jalapenos

To roast garlic, I whack off the top of the garlic head so that I can see a little bit of each clove. Place the trimmed heads in the center of a piece of foil, close up the foil to make a little packet, and stick that in the oven along with your peppers. It takes about 40-50 minutes to roast the garlic this way. Remove the packet from the oven and let it cool. Open the foil, take one of the garlic heads and squeeze the base of it gently to push the garlic pulp up and out of the skins. The garlic will be soft and practically spreadable (some people do like to use roasted garlic as a spread, in fact).

If you are one of those insane hot-foods people you can also add some hot pepper sauce to your salsa, though I think the best flavor comes from using hot peppers instead.

To make your salsa, dump all of the ingredients into a big pot. Bring it to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the flame and let it cook at a strong simmer/gentle boil for about 10 minutes. The salsa will thicken a bit. Cook it until it’s the texture that you like (though I’d advise against cooking it terribly long, as it will just get mushy and icky).

Cooked salsa

Put the hot salsa into prepared canning jars, cover them with lids and rings, and process. I did the first batch in a water bath canner for 15 minutes, and the second batch in the pressure canner at 10 psi for about the same time. I like to use the pressure canner just to get all the processing done at once, though it’s plenty acidic to do in the boiling water-bath. The recipe makes 8 – 9 pints.


Finished salsa


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