Some people think vegetables and salads should be dainty and light, but most veggies have a deeper, darker side – especially if you char them. The process makes them sweet but just a little bitter, like they grew up hard and have some stories to tell. Mexican cooks burn the bejesus out of tomatoes to make smoky, black-flecked salsa. Roasted red peppers get their flavor from high heat that blisters their thin skins. And when the first leeks of spring show up, Spanish cooks make a bonfire out of them and pluck the sweet, soft white remains from inside for delectable finger food. Here are three of our favorite ways to make vegetables a little edgier.
Fire-Roasted Tomato-Walnut Salsa
When you have good, sweet tomatoes, this is a ridiculously easy sauce. It tastes like salsa that spent the summer in Turkey and took up smoking. Use it as a dip with bread, or serve with grilled chicken or fish for a full meal. Or just eat it as a cool summer soup. Makes 2½ cups.
- 1 lb ripe tomatoes
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 small clove garlic, grated
- ¼ cup Greek yogurt
- 8 mint leaves, chopped
- 2 tsp chopped dill
- ¼ cup walnuts, chopped and toasted
Turn a stove burner on and blacken the skins of the tomatoes all over by setting them on the grate or holding them over fire with tongs or a long fork. Let the tomatoes cool, then chop them – finely or roughly, up to you.
In a bowl, season tomatoes and their juice with a few pinches of salt and pepper and let rest for 10 minutes. Stir in all other ingredients and let sit together for 20 minutes before serving.