Servings: 8 Prep: 15 mins Cook: 45 mins Total: 1 hr
For anyone afraid to cook, or people who always burn things, this recipe is for you!
Black Salsa, also known as “Salsa Negra” is a largely Tex-Mex form of salsa, though varieties of this form of salsa exist all throughout Mexico, as well. Many forms of it take on fancy names like “Fire-Roasted Salsa”, for example and contain an incredibly wide range of ingredients, from charred, grilled veggies, to reconstituted exotic, dried chilies, to the addition of sugars and vinegars, and more. There’s a seemingly endless variety of this dark, intensely flavored salsa.
In this case, I opted to strip it down to the bare essentials. No exotic dried chilies, no sugar, no vinegar, no live fire or grill, etc. I wanted something different and interesting, but without any big moving parts or wildly exotic ingredients. This is for those of you who burn water. Now you can burn your food with glee!
In short, the idea is to take some veggies, cut them open, lightly oil them (this will help the scorching and blistering of the surface), then toss them into a hot oven to burn! This will lend the dark color and a deep, almost bitter flavor deep within it’s tart and lightly spiced taste. Please know that this doesn’t taste “burnt”. It just lends a bit of a bitter tone that contrasts well with the acidic flavors coming from the lime juice and tomatoes. Beyond this, because these vegetables are heavily roasted, much of the water is removed, concentrating all the flavors. It’s definitely a strongly flavored salsa, but no less wonderful. A little bit goes a long way!
Once the ingredients are cooked and nicely scorched, toss the ingredients into a food process, blender, or molcajete (a large, stone, Mexican mortar & pestle), if you have one lying around. Add the fresh lime juice and cilantro, process, puree, or mush, season, then serve!
- 10 Roma tomatoes
- 1 small onion
- 4 poblano peppers
- 2 jalapeños
- 8 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup melted fat such as ghee, olive oil, lard, etc.
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 4 limes
- 1/2 small bunch cilantro
- salt and pepper to taste
- Pre-heat oven to 450°F (232°C).
- Cut the tomatoes into quarters. While not required, I used my fingers to scoop out the seeds from each tomato quarter, then discarded. This is for both attractiveness, but also to remove a bit of the bitter twang that can come from the seeds. The scorching will provide that angle. It’s up to you. Place the tomatoes into a large bowl.
- Peel, then quarter the onion from top to bottom, while leaving the little nibblet at the top intact. This will allow the quarters to stay connected to that top nibblet and maintain their shape, without falling apart into the layers. We want to scorch the outside, while leaving some moisture deeper within the heart of the onion quarters. If you remove that connective nibblet, the onion layers well separate and burn into little sheets of carbonized onion, without any of the soft, moist sweetness coming from deeper in the onion. Place the four intact onion quarters in the bowl with the tomatoes.
- Remove the stems and seeds from the poblano and jalapeño peppers, then cut them into big rustic chunks. Add them to the bowl. You can save the seeds if you want to add a bit more spice during the blending process. Save and set aside, or discard.
- Peel and remove the top little nibblet from the garlic cloves. Place them, whole, into the bowl.
- If you plan to can this salsa, skip this step. We’re going to add some fat to help scorch the surface of these vegetables, but the fat can be a problem and drastically limit the shelf-life of this salsa, if canned. I personally freeze it and eat it quite quickly, so I add the fat. If adding the fat, add it to the bowl with the veggies. Add a bit of salt and pepper, as well as the ground cumin. Toss the ingredients to evenly coat with the fat and seasoning.
- Line a rimmed baking tray with parchment paper. Not required, but it helps with cleanup.
- Evenly distribute the vegetables on the tray. Make sure they’re in one layer, with as much space between each vittle as possible. This exposes more surface area, thus more area to scorch.
- Place the tray in the oven and roast until the surface of the vegetables have taken on a bit of a burnt and blackened look. Watch it, but this will take between 30 and 45 minutes.
- Once the veggies have a decent, albeit inconsistent blackening, remove them from the oven and set aside to cool for about 10 minutes.
- Once the veggies are cool enough to touch, place them in a food processor if you have one. This will allow a bit more texture. A blender is fine, but you may need to add some water and the result will be more like a smooth puree. Still perfectly fine and tasty, but less rustic in texture and appearance. A molcajete is the most traditional and probably the best way to go about this, but I suspect most of my readers don’t have one. If you do … break it out and use it!
- Juice the limes and add the juice to the processor, blender, or molcajete.
- Wash the cilantro. Tear off the top of the cilantro bunch, leaving the bundle of stems behind. Discard the bundle of stems and add the top of the bunch to the processor, blender, or molcajete. The smaller stems in the top of the bundle are fine. You don’t need to be super particular about the stem ratio in this case.
- If you want to add some more spice, add some of the reserved chili seeds.
- Process, blender, or pulverize your vegetables. You may need to add a small amount of water to get this moving, but you may not. Much depends on how much water was removed during the roasting process.
- Taste the salsa, adjust the seasoning with a bit more salt, if it needs it, then serve!
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