Salsa italiana

Let’s commingle cultural traditions by turning classic Mexican salsa ingredients—tomatoes, peppers, and onions—into an Italian affair with the addition of roasted garlic, fresh basil, and oregano. If you plan ahead and have a head of roasted garlic ready to use, this salsa is a cinch to make on the day of the party. Roasted garlic is a boon to the calorie-conscious cook because it adds big flavor but few calories. As you’ll see, only a miniscule amount of olive oil is used in this recipe. I love to serve this salsa as a dip, but I also adore it as an accompaniment to grilled halibut skewers or pan-seared red snapper.


Makes about 3 cups/720 ml (serving size: 1/4 cup/60 ml)


  • FAT 0.5g (sat 0.1g, mono 0.3g, poly 0.1g)
  • PROTEIN 1g
  • CARB 4g
  • FIBER 1g
  • CHOL 0mg
  • IRON 0.3mg
  • SODIUM 99mg
  • CALC 15.6mg


1 head garlic roasted (recipe follows)
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp kosher or sea salt
1/2 tsp crushed red peppers
1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups/350 g cherry tomatoes stemmed and quartered
1 (about 1 cup/240 ml) yellow bell pepper/capsicum seeded, deribbed, and cut into 1/2-in/12-mm dice
1/2 cup/70 g red onion diced
1/4 cup/60 ml fresh basil leaves chopped
2 tbsp fresh oregano leaves chopped


Skinny Dippers: Bruschetta, Crostini, Poached Shrimp

Preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C/gas 5. Roast the head of garlic as directed in the recipe below. (While the garlic is roasting, chop the vegetables and herbs.)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, vinegar, salt, and crushed red pepper until the salt is dissolved. Remove the warm cloves of garlic from their skins and add to the vinegar mixture. Using a fork, mash the roasted cloves until puréed and smooth. Whisk in the olive oil.

Add the tomatoes, peppers/capsicums, and onions, and gently mix to coat with the dressing. Fold in the basil and oregano. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Transfer to a serving bowl, cover, and set aside for at least 1 hour to allow the flavors to meld.
Dip Do-ahead

This salsa can be prepared up to 8 hours in advance. Cover and refrigerate. Remove from the refrigerator 45 minutes before serving. Serve at room temperature.
Roasted Garlic

Roasted garlic is a wonderful condiment to have on hand. I mash it with a little olive oil and spread it on bruschetta. I also add it to salad dressings, tomato sauces, and potato gratins. And, as you’ll see, adding roasted garlic to dips contributes a distinctive mellow garlic flavor without the bite of fresh garlic.

Here’s an easy recipe.
1 head garlic
Olive oil
Kosher or sea salt

Preheat the oven to 375ºF/190°C/gas 5. Peel the loose, papery outer layers of skin off the head of garlic and trim any roots from the bottom. Cut off enough of the top of the garlic head to expose the cloves. Place the head of garlic on a sheet of foil large enough to completely enclose it, with a little extra foil left over. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon of olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt. Wrap the foil tightly around the bulb, twisting it closed at the top. Place on a small rimmed baking sheet/tray, and roast until the garlic feels soft when pierced with a knife, about 45 minutes. Open the foil package and bake until the garlic cloves begin to pop from their skins and brown, about 15 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and let cool. Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves from the skins. Store, tightly covered, in the refrigerator, for up to 3 weeks.