Hot roasted pepper salsa

We’re officially into summer party season, with the sunshine and heat to prove it. And that means salsa season. I don’t care where you are and who you’re with, good salsa and tortilla chips are never out of place. Especially if the salsa’s freshly made.

Usually, homemade chips-and-dip salsa means pico de gallo–tomatoes, onions, limes, a chile or two, maybe a little cilantro, salt, chunked and mixed. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s not my favorite. I tend to go for gutsier salsas, with a little more spice and smoke to them. And nothing punches up an ordinary tomato salsa like a roasted pepper or two. Or, in this case, three.

The basic outline of this salsa is similar to the ubiquitous pico de gallo, but with a trio of peppery additions: green bell pepper for grassiness, poblano pepper for sharpness, and jalapeno pepper for fruity heat. I roasted my peppers under the broiler, which turned out okay-not-great; my favorite method is still straight-up roasting over a gas burner. (An outdoor grill would work too, if you’ve got.) As usual, the peppers are stripped of their seeds before going into the salsa, but in this case the blackened skin can stay–it’s where all the dark smokiness is. After that, it’s smooth sailing: a quick pulse in the food processor with some tomato, onion, garlic, lime juice, and salt, and hey presto–a loose, liquid salsa that clings appealingly to chips.

As far as heat goes, this is not a beginner-level salsa. Straight out of the processor, it had a pretty solid kick. I liked the spice level, but several of my friends said it was just barely edible for them. As the salsa sat and mellowed in the bowl, the heat seemed to dissipate a bit, to the point that even my more spice-averse friends were able to dip a chip every now and then. But this is still not mild-and-friendly fare, so be prepared for a bit of a bite.

The one downside of this salsa is that it doesn’t keep well. After about a day in the fridge, it loses its appealing freshness. But given how liquid it is, I’d imagine the leftovers would make a darned good marinade for chicken or pork. If anyone tries this, please report back.

roasted pepper salsa

Hot Roasted Pepper Salsa
(makes about 1 1/2 cups)

Adapted from The Kitchn

1 green bell pepper

1 poblano (pasilla) pepper

1 jalapeno pepper

1/2 lb (8 oz) ripe tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped

1/2 medium red onion, roughly chopped

2 medium garlic cloves, minced

2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice (about 2 limes’ worth), or to taste

Salt to taste

A large handful of chopped fresh cilantro

Roast the peppers over a gas burner, under the broiler, or on a hot grill, until blackened on all sides. Set the peppers aside until cool enough to handle, then stem them and pull out the seeds and inner membranes. Tear the bell pepper and poblano pepper into pieces.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the roasted peppers, tomatoes, onion, garlic, lime juice, and salt. Pulse until the mixture is as chunky as you want it. Transfer to a bowl and stir in cilantro. Taste and adjust the salt as needed. Serve immediately, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for 1-2 hours to let the flavors meld.

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