Fire-Roasted Salsa

I never could have guessed that one day I’d be writing a post while taking refuge from a wildfire at a friend’s home during a mandatory evacuation. Life has a mind of its own, it seems.

But on second thought, I have made—with and without fate interfering—many of my own choices. I chose to reside on the side of a mountain, living a quiet life and pursuing the solitary activity of writing. I like answering questions in my blog posts because it gives me the opportunity to tell (and relive) my stories. I chose to live on the edge of a forest where wildlife, not people, are the highlight of my day. This was, until recently, pretty much my routine, my life.

If you don’t live in a vacuum, you know that 2020 will go down in history as an extremely memorable year. When the pandemic started, I remember thinking that the life I built for myself offered great advantages for avoiding crowds. But the other shoe dropped, and the wildfires changed everything.

Now that I’ve been touched by the all-consuming force of wildfires, they have more meaning in my life. They are too close and too threatening to even understand what’s at stake—losing my home, all my belongings, everything about me that I love. Losing what it took a lifetime to acquire would almost be like erasing my past. I never gave any thought to the fact that these things are who I am.

The American west is on fire, and I’m scared!

And yet, even in the midst of all this, there is a rainbow. I now have in my life a charming man with many qualities I admire, and he shares my interests and values. My wise mom would have said that the chances of finding this in a partner are slim…but I’m here to tell you, it can happen.

Destiny has a mind of its own. I joyfully write about food—good, farm-to-table food of the finest quality—to nourish our Selene River Press readers. And it turns out that the gracious friend who is sheltering me has an incredible garden this year! I feel like I’m back in Italy with all of the freshest ingredients I enjoyed on my trip last September and October. I wear the earthy smell of tomato leaves on my arms each morning after picking the reddest and ripest of the day’s bounty. What bliss. (Of course, that’s another story just waiting to be told.)

A garden brings joy, especially one that is bursting with tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, peppers, yellow and green squash, and herbs, none of which were in my life before my forced evacuation.

Salsa in the jar isn’t bad, and you can even find some fresh supermarket salsas that are pretty good. However, this super easy, six-ingredient fire-roasted salsa with the freshest of ingredients is ultimately the best! I guarantee you’ll think so too.

Fire-Roasted Salsa

Chef’s note: If you like chunky salsa, as I do, use the pulse button and be careful not to over blend. Charring the vegetables brings their flavors to new heights and make this recipe a winner.

2 tablespoons olive oil
4–5 cups cherry tomatoes
1 large red onion, diced
1 poblano pepper, seeded and quartered
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and halved
2 small serrano peppers, seeded and halved (optional)
8 cloves garlic, peeled
¼–½ teaspoon cumin
½–1 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Special equipment: broiler pan, food processor


  1. Pour olive oil on a broiler or roasting pan.
  2. Add cherry tomatoes, onion, peppers, and garlic to the pan and toss them in the olive oil.
  3. Place under the broiler for about 6 minutes, or until charred. (More charring improves the flavor so don’t be afraid to broil for 7 minutes.)
  4. Place the charred vegetables, including any pan juices, in a food processor. Add cumin, cilantro, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
  5. Pulse until combined (don’t overmix). Adjust seasonings to taste.
  6. Refrigerate at least 5 hours to let the flavors meld.

Image from iStock/Lilechka75.

Phyllis Quinn

Phyllis Quinn is a chef, food writer, and founder of Udderly Cultured, a class that teaches how to make homemade fresh mozzarella, butter, yogurt, cottage cheese, and other cultured products. Private lessons are available. For a reservation, call Phyllis at 970-221-5556 or email her at Rediscover nearly lost cooking methods and get one-of-a-kind recipes in her books The Slow Cook Gourmet and Udderly Cultured: The Art of Milk Fermentation.

Products by Phyllis Quinn

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