Imagine the sweet taste of fire embracing your tomatoes and peppers and onions that you blend into a fresh salsa. Perfection! Tortilla chips and some friends over and it’s a party! Salsa is super easy to make. When I fire up the grill, I always have a few extra veggies on hand to throw on the fire and make salsa with. This salsa recipe freezes easily for later use too. Put it in a crockpot or Instapot for Salsa Chicken. Throw it in with melted cheese and some milk to make a Fire Roasted Queso.

Chef John’s Fire Roasted Salsa

5 medium-size tomatoes, overripe, left whole

1 onion, cut in quarters

½ jalapeno pepper

2 tablespoons freeze dried cilantro

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon Magic Spice Mix (recipe below)

Heat wood fire grill (I used a Pitboss XL with oak wood chunks, but you can use a gas grill too.) Place a large cast iron skillet on the fire and heat the pan until water sizzles when dropped on it. Char the tomatoes, onions and pepper, shaking the pan to move the veggies and prevent sticking. Turn until charred on all sides, about 5 minutes total. Remove from fire and refrigerate overnight. (Do not blend while hot.)

Once cooled, remove charred veggies from refrigerator and dump them into a food processor. Pulse for a few seconds at a time until pureed to salsa consistency. (It’s important to pulse and not just turn it on because turning it on will just spin the liquid and not actually chop.)

Pour the tomato mixture into a bowl and add cilantro, lime juice, and spices. Mix and let sit for an hour or so to meld in the flavors. Depending on the acidity of the tomatoes, you may want to add either more lime juice or more spices to taste.

Serve with tortilla chips. Freezes well too.

You can also put the leftover salsa in a crockpot with chicken to make a salsa stewed chicken for tacos the next day.

Magic Spice Blend:

1 tablespoon paprika

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon granulated garlic

1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper

1 teaspoon coriander

2 teaspoons celery salt

2 teaspoons cumin

Mix together and store in airtight container. Hint: The fresher the spices you use, the better the flavor. Don’t store your spices for more than 6 months at a time.

This is a good rub on meat or chicken and cooked on the grill.

Written by Chef John O'Neil