Fire Roasted Salsa

As summer draws to a close and fall sets in, my tomatoes typically begin to come ripe in the basket-full!

I use lots of the fresh tomatoes in meals like sourdough pizza, zucchini pizza boats, and chunky salsa – but there is always more than we can use without preserving the tomatoes!

Some of my favourite ways to preserve tomatoes is by making spaghetti sauce, sun dried tomatoes or this fire roasted salsa recipe!

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I often will make a couple of these recipes at the same time; in the photo above, I have a batch of tomato rounds in the dehydrator and the off-cut tops will be used for the fire roasted salsa.

That keeps my sun dried tomatoes in nice rounds, while the flesh left over from cutting the woody centre of the tomato out gets blended into the salsa.

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Why is fire roasted salsa better than raw salsa?

Don’t get me wrong – I love a good Pico De Gallo (chunky salsa) on my fried tacos, but fire roasted salsa is much better for preserving because of its thick, even consistency.

Roasting the ingredients before blending them not only brings out the heat in the peppers, but it also enhances the flavour in the tomatoes and reduces the water content (no one wants watery salsa!)

PRO TIP: Using beefsteak tomatoes will also help achieve the desired consistency because they naturally have lower water content than other varieties of tomatoes.

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Start by lining a large baking sheet with parchment paper and cover it with a layer of chopped tomatoes and onions, whole garlic cloves, and whole jalapeños and cayenne peppers.

Drizzle it with a bit of olive oil and mix well, then sprinkle a bit of salt to taste.

You don’t want the layer of veggies to be too deep or you won’t get the ideal results of an evenly roasted salsa.

Place the baking sheet on the top rack of a pre-heated oven, set on broil.

Watch your batch to make sure it doesn’t burn and flip once the peppers start to blister and the tomatoes start to brown.

This should only take a few minutes.

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Once the other side of the peppers blister as well, remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow to cool.

Next, cut the stems off the peppers and add the roasted ingredients to the food processor, along with the cumin, fresh lemon juice, and cilantro.

Blend well and give it a taste test!

The beauty of making your own salsa is that you can decide just how mild or spicy you would like it to be; if it isn’t spicy enough for your taste, just add a bit of cayenne powder to kick it up a notch.

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This recipe only makes about a pint, so you will need to roast multiple pans of veggies if you want to can large quantities of fire roasted salsa to use up the bounty from your tomato harvest.

If you just want a jar of fresh, homemade salsa to enjoy you’ll find this is the perfect size batch to whip up quickly!

Start to finish, this recipe only takes 15-20 minutes to make – including the roasting time!

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Recipe

2 cups tomato, chopped

1/2 white onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, whole

3 jalapeños , whole

2 cayenne peppers, whole

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 lemon, juiced

1 tablespoon cilantro dried or 1 cup fresh

1/4 teaspoon cumin

Salt & pepper to taste

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Instructions

Drizzle olive oil on tomato, onion, garlic, jalapeño, and cayenne peppers – mix well.

Roast on a lined baking sheet in a pre-heated oven set to “broil” on the top rack.

Flip vegetables when the peppers start to blister.

Remove from oven when second side of peppers blister and allow to cool.

Cut pepper stems off and place all ingredients in food processor.

Blend well.

Add cayenne powder to reach desired spiciness, if it is not hot enough for your taste.

If canning the salsa, place in sanitized jars and process in hot water bath.

Enjoy!

Serving size: 1 pint

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Spicy Shrimp Taco Lettuce Wraps (with crema sauce)

Tacos of any kind are always a hit, and with summer weather this light, tasty taco recipe is a favourite! (Not to mention healthy!)

The mixture of creamy avocado, crunchy cabbage, and zesty shrimp are an explosion of flavour, texture, and color!

They are so fast and easy to make that it begs the question why I don’t make them more often!

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One of the other perks is the minimal heat that it adds to the house during a sweltering, summer day.

Start by thawing your frozen raw shrimp in cold water; this method helps thaw the shrimp more quickly than just setting it out to thaw and prevents it from cooking if you were to microwave it or use hot water.

If you have fresh raw shrimp, it will be that much better!

NOTE: pre-cooked shrimp will not have the ideal flavour or texture, so try to get raw shrimp if at all possible.

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Next, collect all your fresh veggies; cabbage, red onion, avocado, jalapeño, lemon, lime and, of course, the butter lettuce to wrap it all up!

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Slice the avocado, jalapeño, red onion, and cabbage into thin slices.

A slightly firmer avocado makes them easier to slice and keep the pieces together, rather than accidentally mashing them in the process.

Prepare the crema sauce by adding 1/4 cup sour cream to a bowl.

Zest 1/4 of the lime, then juice 1/4 of the lime into the same bowl.

Add salt & pepper to taste.

The crema sauce really makes all the flavours pop, so don’t skip this step!

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By now your shrimp should be thawed; devein and shell them if they are not already prepared this way.

Place in a bowl and juice 1/4 fresh lemon, then add the cayenne, cumin, and paprika.

Mix well, making sure the spices are rubbed into the shrimp well (I use my hands).

Allow to sit for about 5 minutes so the shrimp absorbs as much flavour as possible.

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Fry in a pre-heated pan on high heat with butter until just cooked.

You do not want to overcook shrimp; it makes them chewy.

You can tell they are ready to be flipped when they start turning pink on the bottom.

Once the second side turns pink and the center is white (and not translucent) you know they are ready.

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Plate the lettuce, garnishing it with the cabbage, red onion, jalapeño, and sliced avocado.

A little bit goes a long way, so don’t overdo the toppings.

Finally, add the shrimp and drizzle with crema sauce.

If you are a cilantro lover, by all means sprinkle a few leaves on top!

This will be the life of the party next time you host dinner!

It pairs well with chips and chunky salsa and guacamole dips on the side.

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Recipe

24 medium sized raw shrimp

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon cumin

1/4 lemon, juiced

8 leaves butter lettuce

Shredded cabbage, to taste

Thinly sliced red onion, to taste

Thinly sliced jalapeño, to taste

1/2 avocado, thinly sliced

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Crema Sauce

1/4 cup sour cream

1/4 lime, juiced

1/4 lime zest

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Directions

Devein and shell thawed, raw shrimp and combine with cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, cumin, and lemon juice.

Marinate for 5 minutes.

Thinly slice cabbage, red onion, jalapeño, and avocado.

Make crema sauce by combining sour cream, lime, and lime zest.

Fry shrimp in pre-heated pan on high heat with butter. Do not overcook!

Plate the lettuce leaves, then garnishing with cabbage, red onion, jalapeño, and avocado. Place 3 shrimp on each taco and drizzle with crema sauce.

Makes 8 tacos

Enjoy!

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