Green Tomato Week: Piquant Grilled Salsa

Read on for the Grilled Green Tomato Salsa recipe.

Green salsa, or salsa verde, can mean different things to different cultures. The dish reaches back some 2,000 years according to historians, and takes on many looks and tastes depending on who you talk with. That said, here’s an easy and tasty version that’s fun to make on the grill and compliments those steaks or burgers.

My wife, Melonie, put this dish together several years ago after watching a chef cook a Mexican dish on public television. The chef was grilling tomatoes and creating a caramelized coating. It was summertime and we had lots of green tomatoes and assorted peppers on the vine in the backyard. We’d always enjoyed Mexican cuisine and American grilling … so she set out to create an appetizer that incorporated both.

Grilled vegetables and marinade in stainless steel pan. (Find the pan at or Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio.)

Her “Grilled Green Salsa” starts with a warm grill, raw garden produce and a few simple ingredients. Some 15 minutes later you’ll have a bowl full of snacking green goodness. Add a bag of corn tortilla chips and you have the perfect distraction until the main course is ready. It also makes a good side dish to compliment barbecued meats.

Ingredients include:
3 medium green tomatoes
2 medium onions
2 green bell peppers
4 large banana peppers
1 cup Italian salad dressing
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup water
4 tbsp. cup sugar

Start grill, heating to a medium temperature.

While grill heats, prepare your ingredients. Cut the tomatoes and onions in slices about one-half to three-quarters inch thick. Cut the bell peppers in half and remove the seeds and whitish ribs inside. Cut the banana peppers down one side, the length of the pepper. Remove the seeds from inside.

Place all the prepared produce in a shallow pan. Blend Italian salad dressing, lemon juice and water and drizzle liberally over vegetables. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons sugar over top and let sit for 10 minutes.

Grilling the veggies makes them so tender–you can just as easily use a non-electric food processor or blender.

With grill hot, lay vegetables on grate. Allow to heat for about two minutes, turn, and heat on other side, until grill marks form and tomatoes begin to blanch (turn pale). When the surfaces of the onion and peppers begin to brown slightly, remove everything from heat. Place all the grilled vegetables back in the pan with the remaining liquid.

Now put all the vegetables in a blender or food processor. Add a splash of vinegar, another splash of lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Blend until the mixture is reduced to a chunky, saucelike texture. Stop short of a smooth blend.

Serve with tortilla chips, or use as topping for grilled meats. It’s equally good on beef, chicken or pork.

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