Salsa!

I did some canning this year, but it’s been more of the small-batch, gourmet, let’s-see-if-we-can-win-a-ribbon-at-the-county-fair* variety than serious, I-don’t-want-to-starve-this-winter, marathon mega-canning.  I’ve come to terms with my neurotic food hoarding as well as my ridiculous overzealousness when it comes to new things to try in the kitchen, so this year involved an impressive but sensible number and variety of jars.

Tonight’s festivities centered around a zesty roasted salsa, my take on the venerable Ball book’s “Zesty Salsa” recipe.  I did go a little overboard with the roasting, which is not called for at all in the Ball recipe but a step which I, personally, find almost obligatory these days.  After discovering the absolutely breathtaking sweetness of roasted onions and the depth of flavor that dry heat lends to peppers, I wouldn’t make it any other way.

This is the third year I’ve made this recipe.  It’s not difficult, but it is quite time consuming, especially with all the chopping and roasting that’s involved.  Personally, I think it’s all worth it.  If you aren’t impressed by roasted veggies, then you probably ought not try this recipe, or you’ll be very tired and somewhat underwhelmed after it’s all over.  But if you’re in the know, by all means – give it a try.

I heated my oven to 450 degrees F, then lined two baking sheets with aluminum foil.  I took a bunch (yes, that is a very imprecise number) of Roma tomatoes and halved them, then placed them cut-side down on the sheets, cramming as many on each sheet as would fit.

Roasted tomatoes

I roasted them for 30 minutes, at which point I took them out and tossed them into a paper bag.  I sealed up the bag and let it sit in a large bowl (to catch leaks) for another 15 minutes, or however long it took them to cool off so I could handle them.  The bag causes the tomatoes to steam somewhat, making them super-easy to peel.

Meanwhile, on the same pans, I placed two yellow onions, peeled & quartered, and two red onions, also peeled & quartered.  The onions were very large, a bit bigger than my fist.   I also put about a dozen cloves of garlic, UNPEELED; then there was room for about three very large bell peppers (halved, seeded and de-veined) and a handful of semi-hot peppers (whole).  Roast the onions and peppers for another thirty minutes.  Take the garlic out after about 15 minutes or it will get mushy.

Roasted peppers

The recipe then becomes as follows:

  • 10 cups roasted Roma tomatoes, peeled after roasting and most of the seeds removed (I wasn’t overly picky about removing the seeds)
  • 5 cups roasted onions, a mix of red and sweet yellow, chopped.  I got about 4 cups out of the onions I roasted, then added another large red onion, raw, chopped, to make 5 cups.
  • 5 cups roasted bell peppers, seeded & chopped.  Again, I had to cut up a few other raw peppers to make the five cups.  I peeled the roasted ones.
  • 2-ish cups of roasted semi-hot peppers, peeled, seeded & chopped.  If you like things hot hot hot, leave some seeds in.  Or add hot pepper sauce.  Or use hotter peppers.  I was going for zesty rather than eye-watering, so I took the seeds and veins out.
  • a dozen cloves of roasted garlic, peeled & chopped.  I like roasted garlic.  If you roast it longer, it will get soft like butter and you can use it as such.  That’s a different recipe, however.
  • a Tablespoon of dried cilantro, or a couple Ts of chopped fresh cilantro.
  • 1 1/4 cups of apple cider vinegar.
  • 1 tsp salt.  I don’t think it even needs this much, to be honest.  The original recipe calls for a T and I think that is serious overkill.

Start your jars going in the waterbath canner and get the lids heating up (don’t boil them, of course).  Put all the ingredients into a large pot and start cooking.  When the pot reaches the boil, reduce heat slightly and cook at a strong simmer for about 10 minutes, until any raw veggies are softened and the salsa thickens up a bit.  Turn off heat.

Fill jars with hot salsa, leaving 1/2″ headspace, and process in the boiling water canner for 15 minutes for pints, 20 minutes for quarts.  I got 7 pint jars and 1 1/2 of those 8-oz jelly jars out of this recipe.  The jelly jars are nice to give as gifts, or if you just want “a little bit” of salsa.  I wouldn’t bother with the quarts unless you go through some serious quantities of it at one time.

Roasted Salsa

*We did.  Three, as a matter of fact!

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