We used a torch to add some fire roasted flavor to this bright and summery salsa fresca. Perfect for when you want that charred flavor, but don’t want to fire up the grill.
We were recently visiting family in New England and volunteered to make a salsa fresca for a backyard picnic. In a few of our past kebab recipes, we’ve really enjoyed the flavor we’ve been able to get from blistered cherry tomatoes. We typically would do this over a campfire or grill, but in the middle of a muggy East coast summer, we didn’t want to spend any more time in front of a grill than was necessary. So, we decided to use a torch instead.
The first ingredient we started with was a medium-sized jalapeno. Holding it by the stem and using a pair of protective, heat-resistant gloves, we torched the chile until it was entirely blackened and the skin was starting to flake off. We then wrapped it in aluminum foil and set it aside so it could steam a little (making it easier to remove the skin).
We then moved on to our assortment of perfectly ripened cherry tomatoes, which we decided to skewer for easier handling. Just a few passes over with our Bernzomatic torch and we developed some great blackened marks. We recommend using a TS4000 for this, and depending on your preference, you could either lightly toast the tomatoes or really go for it and build up a dark char. Once the tomatoes were good, we chopped them up with a sharp knife and placed them in a bowl.
After that, we peeled two cloves of garlic and cut a quarter red onion. We had torched everything else, so we figured, why not these, too! So we gave them a quick once over, then minced them as fine as we could.
We then removed the jalapeno from the foil, schluffed off the blackened skin, removed the seeds and the veins, and minced as finely as we could. Turns out we didn’t really need to remove the seeds and veins (where most of the heat is located) because apparently, east coast jalapenos are half-strength. Or maybe we just got a particularly weak sauce jalapenos. Either way, you’ll want to adjust how much jalapeno you use to your personal taste.
After all the ingredients were cut and ready to go, we returned to the tomatoes. Sitting in the bowl with the salt, they had released a lot of liquid. This is just an unavoidable result of using fresh tomatoes, so to reduce the “wateriness” of the salsa, we used our chef’s knife as a block and poured out the excess liquid. We then added in the minced jalapeno, onion, and garlic. We added a few minced sprigs of cilantro and squeezed in a half of lime.
The end result was a refreshing salsa with a touch of fire-roasted flavor. Of course, the whole thing could have been done using a campfire or grill, but at 90F and 90% humidity, we were happy to use the torch and put the heat right where we needed it.
PREP TIME: 5 MINUTES
COOK TIME: 5 MINUTES
TOTAL TIME: 10 MINUTES
MAKES: 1 1/2 CUP SALSA
Using a torch, roast the jalapeno until the skin is completely blistered and charred. Wrap in a bit of foil and set aside to steam.
Roast the tomatoes on all sides until they begin to blister. Use caution with the tomatoes - as they heat they can pop and spit a bit. Chop the tomatoes and place them in a small bowl with 1/2 teaspoon salt and set aside.
Once the jalapeno has cooled, remove from the foil and using a cloth or paper towel rub the skin off. Cut and half and remove the veins and seeds (or leave them if you like some heat!), then finely chop. Finely chop the onion, garlic, and cilantro.
Drain the excess liquid from the tomatoes if desired. Add the jalapeno, onion, garlic, and salt to a small bowl. Squeeze in the lime juice and mix in the cilantro. Enjoy with chips, on tacos, or on top of some campfire nachos!