The Fourth of July is just around the corner. I am getting ready to start assembling our annual red, white and blue festive and oh, so patriotic, cake. I slather a sheet cake with a thick foundation of whipped cream, pile on stripes of strawberry slices, and fill a square field with blueberries. It is always messy, but invariably it is deelish, so it makes up for heating up the kitchen for an hour while baking it. I’ll do that baking early Sunday morning, when it is still relatively cool.
While the cake is baking, I will start preparing a couple of sheet trays of vegetables to roast under the broiler, to make a vat o’salsa to get us through the holiday weekend. If I am going to be in a hot kitchen, I am going to prepare a significant amount of food that will last us a few days. A sheet cake will be desserts for the next week, and so far, last weekend’s salsa saw us through one cocktail hour, one taco dinner, one grilled chicken dinner, one scrambled egg breakfast, and one chips and salsa lunch. I like its versatility. And I enjoy the cheap pyromaniacal thrills I get in roasting the vegetables.
Sure, you can roast vegetables on the grill. It is fast, and creates a more uniform char than roasting under the broiler. But it is not as thrilling. How often do you get to blow out a blackened home-grown tomato that is engulfed in a little blue flame? Tiny, domestic fireworks, that are completely legal. Perhaps I do need to get out of the house a little more.
I did not realize until I had made this particular salsa that Mr. Sanders has never been a big salsa fan. Usually I made it in the summer for small cocktail parties – but we haven’t had any of those lately. I had been bringing home store-bought deli containers of pre-fab salsas. Luckily, this salsa he gobbled up, because the vegetables were sweetened by the roasting process, and we were using homegrown tomatoes. It’s hard to go wrong with fresh, local produce.
The corn, tomatoes, jalapeños and onions (both Vidalia and green onions in my adaptation) were scorched and sweetened by the gas broiler flame for about ten minutes (five or six minutes for each side). I added a goodly amount of garlic and a handful of fresh cilantro, whirred it all up in the food processor. Yumsters. There is summer, in a mouthful of sweet, hot goodness. I imagine you can recreate this all year ’round, but we have a windowsill-full of ripe tomatoes, and I don’t intend to waste a single one. Bring on the chips!
You can easily adapt the proportions to your own needs. It all depends on your available storage. I took the measurements as mere guidelines.
Roasted Corn and Tomato Salsa – adapted from The New York Times recipe by Martha Rose Shulman.
1 ½ pounds ripe tomatoes
1 or 2 jalapeños (halved, and remove seeds and stems)
1 ear of corn
½ small white onion
4 garlic cloves, peeled
Salt to taste
1 ½ teaspoons cider vinegar
⅓ to ½ cup chopped cilantro
2 chopped green onions, for decoration
You will need a couple of baking sheets, covered in aluminum foil. I sprinkled them with a little oil, so the vegetables wouldn’t stick.
Preheat broiler and set rack 4 inches below.
Place tomatoes and jalapeños on one of the baking sheets and set under broiler, about 4 inches from heat. Broil for about 6 minutes, until skins are charred and blackened in spots. Using tongs, flip over tomatoes and jalapeños and continue to broil for another 5 or 6 minutes. Put tomatoes and jalapeños, along with any juices in the pan, into a bowl and cool.
Put the corn on baking sheet and set under the broiler. Broil 2 to 4 minutes. Corn should be nicely browned on one side. Roll over and broil again for 2 minutes Remove from heat, cool, then cut kernels from cob and set aside.
Turn heat down to 425°F. Break up Vidalia onions into rings and place on baking sheet in a single layer. Add garlic. Roast, stirring every 5 minutes, until onions have softened and are browned and charred on edges and garlic is soft and browned in spots, about 15 minutes.
Once all the vegetables have cooled, slide the charred skins off the tomatoes and discard. Keeping all the juice, put the roasted veggies into a blender or food processor. Add cilantro, vinegar and salt. Whirr it up for a couple of seconds, until you arrive at your preferred chunk size. You might want to thin it with a little water, but we found ours was juicy enough. Add chopped green onions. Test with a nice, crisp, salty corn chip. Repeat. Yumsters.
Here are some variations:
Perfect Grilled Corn Salsa:
Roasted Corn Salsa:
If you want to roast your corn over an open flame, here is the recipe for you!
Fire Roasted Corn and Tomato Salsa:
Welcome summer. We are ready for you!
“It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.”
– Lewis Grizzard