Open Arms of Minnesota

Weekly Recipe #224: Grilled Salsa

by Tim Baebenroth, VA Medical Center Dietetic Intern

Grilled Salsa
Photo credit: wplynn/Flickr

Fruits and vegetables are good raw. But when summer rolls around, grilling fruits and veggies makes them great! Whenever I buy a decent amount of tomatoes, I like to make this salsa. Fleshy varieties of tomatoes, like Romas, work best in this salsa because they make the final product less watery. Try experimenting with the different kinds at farmers markets – I swear I see a new kind of tomato every time I go!

This low calorie recipe is a great way to add flavor and nutrients to foods such as tacos, burritos, beans, rice, eggs and more. If you grill the veggies over a grill with charcoal or woodchips, I find that there is a very slight smoky flavor.

What gives many tomatoes their bright red color is a molecule called lycopene. Antioxidants help our bodies defend themselves against bad molecules called free radicals that try to attack our cells. Research shows that cooking tomatoes as well as eating them with a small amount of oil or other fat increases our body’s ability to absorb the lycopene. Lucky for us, this recipe has both of those things!

Grilled Salsa

Adapted from Serious Eats

(Makes twelve 2-tbsp. servings)


  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb. Roma (or another fleshy variety) tomatoes, cored & halved
  • 1 medium jalapeño pepper
  • 1/2 medium red onion, peeled & halved
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 tsp. black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp. freshly squeezed lime juice (about 1/2 a lime)
  • 1 tbsp. sugar

Tip: Other tomato varieties will work great too – just try to get ones that have a lot of flesh! Also, if you don’t like spicy foods, only add half of the jalapeño.


  1. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Rub olive oil onto the tomato halves, jalapeño and onion halves.
  2. Grill the onion, tomato and jalapeño until blistered and slightly charred, about 8-10 minutes. Turn occasionally.
  3. Remove from the grill and let cool for 5 minutes.
  4. Place all ingredients in food processor or blender. You may need to work in batches if all the ingredients do not fit at once.
  5. Pulse and stir until entire mixture is finely chopped. Combine into bowl and stir together (if working in smaller batches).
  6. Let salsa cool in refrigerator before serving.

Nutritional Information:

Per serving: 39 calories, 2 g total fat, 0 g protein, 5 g carbohydrate, 3 g sugar, 0 g fiber, 96 mg sodium.

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