Winter Time Salsa Roja with Roasted Garlic and Peppers

This salsa was really, really good and disappeared quickly – always a good sign. It’s just as delicious as the fresh pico style one I make when tomatoes are bountiful, and adds a little extra oomph a la some smoky roasted flavors mingling with the tangy tomatoes, lime and cilantro. Salsa roja with roasted garlic and peppers just takes things up a notch. I’ve been moaning and groaning about how much I miss summer produce for months now. I especially miss the tomatoes. Oh the tomatoes….they’re my favorite. I decided to stop all of my whining (yes, I would like some cheese) and just make some winter appropriate salsa. Oh poor me, I know.

We loved this salsa, Ovi and I. The recipe made just over 3 cups and we ate it all within a  couple of days. We’re crazy for homemade salsa. It’s really the sole reason I own a food processor. I was chopping so many tomatoes by hand, that it became tedious. In fact, I made some Spanish rice, mostly as an excuse to smother it in salsa – One of my favorite things to do! We also made some beautiful red snapper tacos to smother in salsa. I’ll be sharing these recipes over the next few days as well, so if you too are craving summer food, and looking for an excuse to eat a bunch of salsa – you’re in luck!

Of course, you’re going to want to use the best quality canned tomatoes you can get here because we’re relying greatly on the flavor from them. Canned tomatoes are what make this salsa “winter time.” Fresh are heavenly, but good quality canned will help to cure your craving.


  • 2, 28 oz cans of good quality whole tomatoes, drained and juice reserved (It’s no secret that I prefer San Marzano)
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz) tomato sauce
  • 1 California chile (cut in half lengthwise and discard stems)
  • 2 red jalapenos (cut in half lengthwise and discard stems)
      • If you’re sensitive to spicy foods, discard the membranes and seeds of the peppers as well. 
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro (chopped)
  • 4 scallions (thin sliced)
  • 1 lime (juiced)
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 brown onion (divided // half fine mince, half in large chunks for roasting)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin seed
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon sugar (to taste)
  • Salt to taste
  • Preheat your broiler to high (mine goes to 500 F)
  • Prepare a large sheet pan, and coat lightly with cooking spray
  • Drain your tomatoes well, and reserve the juice
  • Cut the top off of your garlic bulb, drizzle with oil and wrap in foil
  • Add tomatoes, peppers, foil wrapped garlic and 1/2 of your onion to the baking sheet
  • Broil the veggies for about 10 minutes or until the skins are charred on the peppers
  • Remove the peppers, and allow to cool
  • Turn the tomatoes and return to the broiler (with garlic) for an additional 10-15 minutes to allow the second side to take on some charred edges
  • Allow roasted veg to come to room temperature
  • Chopped roasted veg finely, or pulse briefly in a food processor to desired level of smoothness (I like mine quite chunky)
  • Remove a few cloves of roasted garlic, sprinkle with salt and work into a paste with the back of your knife.
    • Add as much garlic as you like. Roasted garlic has a much milder taste than raw, so don’t be shy! I added nearly the whole bulb.
  • Stir in remaining ingredients, refrigerate for at least 1 hour to allow flavors to combine, and enjoy!
    • This salsa tastes even better after a day or two in the fridge!

Veggies waiting for their turn under the broiler

I love cooking with California chiles. They’re much milder than their smaller cousins, and taste really great after they’ve been on the grill.

Look at all those yummy roasted veggies! Yum yum. 

I made an entire gallon of this salsa (with fresh tomatoes) for my mom as a bit of a gag gift for her birthday a few years ago. That’s why I own a food processor. Dicing a gallon container worth of fresh tomatoes was really time consuming so I gave up and bought a cheapie at Target to finish it off (oh how I love Target) I really didn’t expect her to eat the entire thing, but she did. She was a champion and ate it all, sometimes by itself with a spoon like soup. Mom, you’re crazy! 

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6 thoughts on “Winter Time Salsa Roja with Roasted Garlic and Peppers

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