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Grilled Salsa

By David Bowers
Published: March 1, 2009
Photo by John and Tanya Bäck
This richly flavored grilled salsa is best eaten the day it’s made. You can blacken the vegetables in a dry cast-iron skillet over medium heat, but the grill’s flames impart a flavor that makes this more like a side dish than a casual sauce. Makes about 1 ½ cups.

What you Need:

  • Olive oil
  • 1 pound tomatoes (about 4 small)
  • 1 small white onion, peeled and cut in half
  • 2 jalapeños
  • 2 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • ¼ cup packed cilantro leaves
  • 2-3 tablespoons lime juice
  • ½ tablespoon salt plus more to taste


1. Turn on the heat to high or build a large charcoal fire. Place a large sheet of heavy-duty foil on the grill directly over the heat.

2. Rub a bit of olive oil on the tomatoes, onion halves, jalapeños, and onto the skin of the unpeeled garlic. Lay them all on the foil.

3. Grill for 8 to 10 minutes, turning occasionally, until the exteriors are starting to blacken. If the garlic and jalapeños are dark all over, remove while you continue to cook the onion and tomatoes. The onion should be blackened in patches, and the tomatoes should start to burst and collapse.

4. Remove to a platter. Wearing rubber gloves to protect against the heat (and the chile burn), remove the blackened skins from tomatoes, onion, jalapeños and garlic. You don’t have to be too scrupulous – a little blackened skin adds flavor. Discard the jalapeño seeds.

5. Coarsely chop any large pieces (such as the onion halves), and place all the grilled and peeled items in a food processor.

6. Add the cilantro and lime juice and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and pulse 3 to 4 times to coarsely grind – do not whirl into a fine purée.

7. Taste and add more salt (and more lime juice) if needed. Pour into a bowl and let rest at room temperature for up to 3 hours before serving.

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