I love salsa. I’ve been known to polish off a single container of salsa, by myself, in a matter of hours. Numerous dinners have been ruined by me snacking on chips and salsa. I’m the first to reach for it when we’re out at a Mexican restaurant, and I’ll normally end my meal by — you guessed it — eating more chips and salsa.
While I’ll eat salsa pretty much in any form (chunky, restaurant style, verde, black bean…), I’m incredibly picky about the quality. I like my salsa freshly made; that junk in the jars doesn’t do it for me. My favorite store-bought salsa is Garden Fresh Naturals, a Michigan-made product that was recently purchased by Campbell Soup (and I swear, Campbell people, if you mess with my salsa, we’re gonna have an issue).
When it comes to restaurant salsa, though, there’s good, there’s great, and then there’s Red Mesa.
Red Mesa is my absolute favorite Mexican restaurant ever. There are two locations in Michigan, both in the northern part of the lower peninsula. Their salsa, along with the rest of their food, and especially their mango margaritas, are worth the drive.
Recently we had a chili cook-off and “salsa showdown” at work. I love making and eating chili, but don’t have a contest-winning recipe up my sleeve. Salsa, on the other hand? Now there’s a competition I could run away with.
Lucky for me, Red Mesa has their recipe for fire roasted tomato salsa on their website. I made a few tweaks, but the end result was just as good as the original.
This recipe makes a lot of salsa, but I promise you won’t be able to stop eating it — it’s that good.
Roasted Tomato Salsa
Adapted from Red Mesa Grill
5 lbs (about 18) ripe Roma tomatoes
6 jalapenos, cut in half and seeded
6 cloves garlic, whole
1 Tbsp salt
3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 lb (2 small) white onions, diced
1 bunch fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
2 ea 10 oz cans diced tomatoes with green chiles (I used Rotel)
1. Wash tomatoes, slice in half, and place on baking sheet, skin side up. Roast in a 500 degree oven until well charred on the outside. I used the low broil setting on my oven — just be sure to watch them closely!
2. When the tomatoes are done (or at the same time, if your oven can handle it), on a separate baking sheet roast garlic and jalapenos until charred.
3. Place roasted garlic, jalapenos, vinegar, and salt in a blender and puree.
4. Add charred tomatoes to jalapeno mixture and slightly puree, leaving salsa slightly chunky. You may have to do this in stages unless you have a massive blender.
5. Add onions, cilantro, and diced tomatoes to salsa; stir and serve.
As for the salsa competition at work? I won!