Grilling, Roasting, and Toasting Chilies and Vegetables for Salsa
Salsa has long been a popular dip, relish, sauce, and salad served with Mexican cuisine. For centuries, diners have enjoyed the authentic Mexican salsa recipes consisting of tomatoes, onions, bell and chili peppers. There are dozens of ways to prepare theses classic recipes. A wonderful way of starting these dishes is to roast the main salsa ingredients like the chili peppers and vegetables under the broiler or over an open fire.
Here are some tips and techniques for roasting and grilling chili peppers and vegetables:
- Begin with the freshest ingredients. The ability to hold up under intense heat works best with fresh chili peppers and vegetables.
Grilling over direct fire always brings out a juicier and smokier flavor than roasting in an oven.
- Roasting in the oven or under a broiler rather than grilling, may result in a more evenly cooked vegetable or pepper.
- Generally speaking, fruits and vegetables that do contain a lot of moisture are better suited for grilling than high moisture ones. You can still grill or roast most vegetables, just proceed with caution, and keep your eye on them.
- Be sure to start with a perfectly clean grill rack or broiler pan.
- Oil your grill rack before using. You should also coat your chilies and vegetables with olive oil or another high smoke point oil to prevent sticking. Periodically turn your vegetables while grilling and drizzle with oil as needed. Choose unflavored oil or oil that does not have a strong taste.
- Preheating your grill before putting the vegetables on it can also help prevent sticking.
- Don’t forget to punch holes in your peppers. This will prevent your peppers from bloating and blowing up while grilling.
- Smaller vegetables may require being placed on foil to avoid falling through grill racks.
- Grill or roast your salsa ingredients over medium heat only. Do not attempt to cook in high heat. Medium heat will allow you greater control over the rate of cooking. High heat will result in quickly charred, mushy or unevenly cooked vegetables.
- Some vegetables cook faster than others. Peppers for example need to stay on the grill longer than tomatoes. Remove items immediately when finished grilling or roasting.
- You can peel bell and chili peppers better if they are grilled or roasted until their skins are blistered and blackened.
- Cool your vegetables before peeling. After peeling, chop them without washing even if they do end up with some stubborn charred peelings on them. Washing your grilled or roasted vegetables will make a difference in the taste. You will lose some of the smoky flavor.
There are not any rules in grilling, roasting or toasting your salsa chilies and vegetables. Most of the tips available anywhere are the result of cooks from all over the world trying and testing different salsa recipes and preparations. Try experimenting on your own variety of vegetables for your special salsa dish.
For more vegetable grilling and roasting tips and techniques, plus dozens of the best gourmet salsa recipes visit
Photo. Kunal Murumkar Patil