Saturday, May 28, 2011

0 Recipe #270: Roasted Red Pepper Salsa

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Here's another condiment that will spice up any number of entrées. In addition to using it for traditional Mexican fare, it makes a great topping for hamburgers and hot dogs. Substitute it for ketchup, for an exciting and much healthier (!) alternative.

Roasted Red Pepper Salsa

6 large whole red bell peppers (makes about 3 c. roasted red peppers)
1/2  medium-sized red onion, unpeeled
1 fresh whole jalapeño pepper
2 large garlic cloves, unpeeled (makes about 1 Tbsp. roasted)
1/4 c. fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. salt, or to taste
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper, or to taste
1 tsp. ground oregano
3 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

Directions: Place whole red bell peppers, unpeeled onion half, whole jalapeño pepper, and whole unpeeled garlic cloves onto a large (12" x 17") aluminium foil-covered baking tray (for easy cleanup). Roast tray of vegetables on the top rack of a 600°F preheated oven (i.e., the "broil" setting) for 25-30 minutes, or until lightly charred/blackened (but not grey/burnt). Every 7 1/2 minutes or so, carefully open the oven, pull out rack, and rotate the vegetables a quarter-turn using heat-proof tongs, and then return to oven. You'll end up doing this procedure a total of 4 times, so that all four sides of the peppers become evenly roasted.

Please note that the garlic should be carefully checked after the first 7 1/2 minutes, to make sure it hasn't burned. Using heat-proof tongs, remove the garlic from the oven as soon as it's roasted, about 10-15 minutes or so, and place onto a heat-proof plate. Also, check on the jalapeño at the 15 minute mark, and remove when fully roasted and then transfer to the same heat-proof plate. Allow garlic and jalapeño to fully cool before handling. (The smaller items obviously tend to roast -- and also burn! -- faster, so it's important to be vigilant about checking them in the first 7-15 minutes of roasting.)

While the vegetables are roasting, prepare your other ingredients: First, finely chop the cilantro and set aside. Then squeeze the lime juice into a food processor. Then, transfer the vinegar along with all of the remaining spices into the food processor.

The garlic and the jalapeño should be cool by now: Peel the garlic, then remove the pepper stem and scrape out the ribs and seeds if you prefer less heat. Place both into the food processor, and set aside.

When the roasted red bell peppers and onion half are done, carefully pull the tray out of the oven. Using heat-proof tongs, transfer the tray to a heat-proof (i.e., silicone) surface and let stand for 10 minutes. When peppers have completely cooled, pick them up using the heat-proof tongs, and hold them over the sink, one at a time. Remove the stems, & then drain the liquid into the sink. Then place peppers back onto the tray & peel off the skin. (The skin should peel off fairly easily.) Slice open each pepper and scrape out the seeds with a paring knife. (If some of the seeds are still sticking to the peppers, wash them off under running water; that usually does the trick.)

Peel onion half and transfer into the food processor. Pulse ingredients a few times until evenly diced. Do not completely pulverize (until smooth); instead, pulse until just combined to leave ingredients a little bit chunky. Next, place cooled peppers into the food processor, and pulse until evenly diced but still chunky.

Either serve immediately at room temperature or chill and remove just before serving.

Yield: 3 c. salsa.

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