Fire Roasted Tomato Salsa is an easy way to add fire roasted flavor to your next backyard cookout. It’s the perfect recipe for those fresh summer tomatoes and green chile peppers. Simply char and roast the ingredients on the grill, add to a blender, and enjoy. This salsa recipe is easy to make or modify, and is vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy free, and no added sugar!
It’s hard to sway from my favorite blender salsa recipe. It’s truly the greatest year-round salsa. BUT in late summer, when I have an abundance of fresh tomatoes and peppers, this is the best way to use them up while creating an absolutely delicious fire roasted salsa!
Technically, roasting is simply cooking in an oven or over fire using high heat. The flavor that comes from roasting starts with the crusty exterior that comes from the Maillard Reaction, or the browning process, that the high heat provides. It also adds a charred element with tomatoes and peppers that deepens the flavor profile. For this we are roasting our ingredients over the grill for flavor and char, and then blending the vegetables into a simple and delicious salsa.
Roasted Tomato Salsa Ingredients
We are balancing sweet and heat using a few flavor elements. For this fire roasted salsa most of the ingredients will be grilled or roasted over fire and a few will be fresh and added to the blender.
Not all tomatoes are created equal. We love using roma tomatoes, plum tomatoes, or the tomato on the vine varieties because they are denser and have less water in them. Larger tomatoes like large heirlooms or beefsteak will have more water content and make the salsa consistency more liquid in texture. Reach for the denser varieties when you can. If all you have are the large versions, grill a few extra poblano peppers to thicken out the salsa.
Allium – Onion and Garlic
Allium ingredients add structure and acidity to the salsa. Red onions are great and are the strongest flavored onion. As they roast, they will sweeten slightly but still maintain that acidic flavor. If you are interested in less acid, consider sweet onions or shallots. Other fun onions to consider are spring onions, or green onions for the mildest flavor.
The roasted peppers add heat, sweetness, and richness to the salsa. Various peppers can be subbed in and out based on your flavor preferences. If you have really large, watery tomatoes, you can offset that with more peppers to give you a thicker consistency to the salsa.
- Jalapeño Peppers – For heat and a pungent flavor.
- Poblano Peppers – For added sweetness. Poblanos are not very hot peppers.
- Serrano Peppers – This adds heat versus flavor.
You can use any peppers you want, but for balancing texture, the go-to is Poblano for it’s mild flavor and heat units. Avoid Green Bell Peppers because they tend to be bitter for a salsa, even when roasted.
- Lime – For brightening the flavor and added freshness. This also adds more acidity. We grill the lime to keep with the theme.
- Cilantro – Adds another fresh bright flavor. For those that don’t love cilantro, that’s ok, just add more lime and salt. We’re huge cilantro fans around here!
- Kosher Salt – A good salsa can be enhanced with the right amount of salt. Kosher salt in small doses can balance the flavors. Don’t forget the chips will be salty too, so don’t go too overboard.
Preparation for Fire Roasted Tomato Salsa
We love using a large sheet tray so we can cut and prepare the ingredients to go straight on the grill. Just prepare the items below, add to the tray and get ready to grill.
- Tomatoes – Remove the stems. We are going to grill as a whole tomato. After grilling we can remove the more dense stem that tends to be where the tomato grew from the vine.
- Peppers – For the poblano and jalapeño, cut in half and remove the seeds. The seeds and membrane the seeds attach to are where most of the heat comes from.
- Onions – Cut the onion in half and grill the half with the skin still on.
- Garlic – Roast the whole cloves in a small cast iron pan with the skin still on it. This protects and avoids the garlic from burning and becoming bitter.
- Lime – slice in half and grill flesh side down until you get the grill marks you like (then rotate flesh up).
Making Fire Roasted Tomato Salsa on the Grill
Set up the grill for two-zone cooking (or direct/indirect grilling). The charcoal will be on one side of the grill where the heat can focus on the items being cooked at a higher heat, and one side with no charcoal where items that are done or close to done can be placed to keep warm or finish if the flame is too hot on the direct side. The direct heat should target 450 – 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
Each ingredient will cook at their own pace, some faster than others. So you will want to stand by the grill as everything cooks to avoid burning.
Using long tongs, and over direct heat, continue rotating all the ingredients until you see nice char marks which make for the Maillard Reaction and roasted flavor. The peppers will likely cook first in about 5 minutes, followed by the tomatoes and garlic (about 8 – 10 minutes), and finally the onion at about 12 minutes. Constantly rotate the ingredients to even the cooking. The texture of the items when done will be soft with the char on the outside. Just place the finished items back on the sheet tray as they finish.
Remove the Skins
The tomatoes, peppers, onion, and garlic need to have the skins removed. This is best when the ingredients slightly cool. Discard the skins. Otherwise the skin will add an unpleasant bitterness and texture to the salsa.
Add all the ingredients to a blender and pulse a couple of times to incorporate. Taste and add salt and lime as you prefer the taste.