A high-producing garden calls for garden salsa with roasted peppers

Dealing with a basket of tomatoes is easy with this slow-cooker big batch salsa.

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Even as corn and soybean harvest got into full swing here in Iowa, on the home front my garden was still producing in great amounts. I've found it hard to find time to do much with the results of all the hard work put in this spring and summer.

Salsa is one of my family’s favorite garden staples. Tomatoes have been coming out of the garden in baskets for a while, but the peppers started keeping up with that trend, too. To keep the peppers used up, I’ve been making various roasted pepper purees to freeze in blocks to add to soups and chili later this winter.

Tossing tomatoes in a slow cooker in the morning and finishing this delicious salsa up in the evening has worked really well with our schedule! The tomatoes that have been most popular in the garden this year and most prolific have been the yellow variety called “Lemon Boy.” They make the salsa a little lighter in color but are a family favorite because of their low acid content. They make a fruity, sweet addition to the recipe.

The other day while roasting a batch of peppers, while making some of my “famous salsa” as my son calls it, I added four roasted peppers to the batch. The salsa took a dramatic turn in terms of flavor and color. The rich flavor of the charred pepper skin and sweet heat really took the salsa over the top!

The recipe I’m sharing today is a favorite of mine because when I’m not feeling too motivated to deal with a basket full of tomatoes, I bring the basket in, wash them off, core them and toss them into a 7-quart slow cooker, nearly full! They cook down on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4-5 hours. Once that part is done, I pull as many skins off with tongs as I can. It isn’t a perfect method but it works for me! I strain the tomatoes and their juices depending on how thick I want my salsa and add the cooled tomatoes to the food processor and the other ingredients that already have been chopped in the food processor.


My favorite peppers to roast for salsa have been poblano, Anaheim and bell pepper varieties. I add the peppers in, skin and all! As I write this, I’m nursing my burning eyeballs. Please remember to use gloves (recommended) or intense hand washing techniques after handling peppers . . . before you rub your eyes!

Big Batch Garden Salsa with Roasted Peppers

Salsa is a favorite use of garden tomatoes and peppers for Cristen Clark's family. Cristen Clark, Special to Agweek

Makes 8 cups


7 quart or similar size slow cooker full to the top, with cored garden fresh tomatoes

(Or alternatively, two 28 ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes)

3-4 cored, seeded, peppers (poblano, red bell, Anaheim, gypsy or other)

2 teaspoons olive oil


Dash of salt

1 jalapeno, seeded, cut into pieces (leave some seeds in if you like spicy salsa)

1 medium red onion, quartered

5 cloves garlic, peeled

1 ½-2 cups loosely packed cilantro leaves

*(if you like cilantro, add the whole bunch, leaves only)

2 teaspoons salt

Juice of one lime



In a slow cooker add cored tomatoes and cook on low heat for 6-8 hours. Remove as many skins with a tongs, discard skins, strain juices off. Let tomatoes cool a bit. Toss sliced peppers in olive oil and sprinkle on a dash of salt. Roast in a 500 degree F oven for 15 minutes until charred. To a food processor add jalapeno, red onion, garlic cloves, cilantro, 2 teaspoons of salt, lime juice and roasted peppers. Pulse until ingredients are uniform in size. Add tomatoes, process until combined and desired texture is achieved. Makes 8 cups.

**For highly acidic tomatoes, add a pinch of sugar to balance flavors.

Cristen Clark lives on an Iowa farm where her family raises corn, soybeans, pigs and cattle. She loves cooking and writing, and sharing contest winning recipes with people she knows. She can be reached at or at

Cristen Clark new mug.jpg
Cristen Clark

Related Topics: FOODRURAL LIFE
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