Roasted Red Bell Pepper Salsa

Just the hint of a warm Spring day in my home here in Nashville brings people out of their Winter hiding and into the brilliant sunshine. On a beautiful day such as today, you’ll spot people gathering on front porches or in backyards, passing around a plateful of some beloved family recipe or sharing a favorite beverage. I may have romanticized this a bit, but Spring and Summer will do that to a girl.

One of my favorite summer-time treats is a healthy bowl of my homemade salsa… not just because it’s chock full of fresh ingredients like cilantro, summer tomatoes, spicy jalapeño peppers and sweet Vidalia onions. But because it’s a social dish. I served this just last night at a grill-out and it became the ‘watering hole’… where everyone gathered to scoop chip-fulls of chunky goodness as they caught up on each others lives. This particular recipe has a couple of unusual ingredients for salsa… a touch of Indian curry for heat and roasted red bell peppers for sweet. If you keep some of these ingredients on-hand… it’s a quick and easy way to bring people together and keep them coming back.

1 large can of Red Gold Whole Peeled Tomatoes (*or 10-12 fresh Roma tomatoes quartered and roasted – follow directions for fresh bell peppers below)
1 large sweet Vidalia onion – quartered
*1 jar sweet roasted red bell peppers (include about 1/2 the juice from the jar)

4 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup of cilantro leaves (remove stems)
2-3 jalapeño peppers – remove seeds and quarter
1 tablespoon Patak’s Hot Curry Paste (hopefully still in your fridge from making my curry hummus recipe!)
Salt & pepper to taste
Garden of Eatin’ Blue Corn Chips (or any bag of your favorite corn chips)

* feel free to roast your own bell peppers. Just cut in half, remove seeds and stem, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and roast on top oven rack at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. You’ll know they’re done when your whole house smells AMAZING! TIP: to easily remove skins, immediately place piping hot peppers in a bowl and cover with saran wrap. Let steam (and cool) for 10 minutes and the skins will just peel right off!

In a food processor or blender, add whole peeled tomatoes (discard juice from can), and all remaining ingredients. Pulse the food processor or blender but don’t let it run or you’ll puree the salsa and you’ll lose the chunkiness. Taste the salsa (always taste your food before serving!) and add additional salt, pepper or curry paste if needed.

The Perfect Bite
I use the Garden of Eatin Blue Corn chips, but any chip with good scooping power will work. For added yummy-ness, dice a semi-ripe avocado and sprinkle across top of salsa. Scoop up a bite and enjoy. This salsa is also great as a topping on your burger or on grilled fish and chicken.

The Perfect Pairing
Now, normally you’d never catch me recommending a boxed wine… but I’ve recently discovered Bota Box wines… and their Pinto Grigio is quite tasty. Since you’ll probably be entertaining with all this salsa… you’ll need a Bota Box (contains 4 bottles and runs $16-$20 depending on where you purchase) to satisfy the masses. Refrigerate white boxed wine over night to achieve a good tasting temperature.

Did You Know?
Jarred salsas are very high in sodium. Manufacturers have to guarantee a shelf life and use tons of preservatives. Making your own salsa lets you control the salt. I’m a big fan using plenty of flavorful spices so very little salt is necessary. And if you make it tasty enough – it will be gobbled up and it won’t need a shelf life! For even less sodium, make this recipe using fresh tomatoes cut into 1/4 inch squares. A Handy Tip: If you use rubber gloves to cut and de-seed jalapeños you’ll avoid the Diablo Rojo fiasco. The seeds are the hottest part of the chile and if you can handle, add quite a bit of heat to your salsa. Enjoy!


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