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Roasted Poblano-Watermelon Salsa gives you the refreshing juicy crush of cubed watermelon mingled with the play of salty, creamy feta cheese and the rich-heat of the coziest of all spicy peppers: the poblano chile.
Roasting peppers as a child
I love roasting poblano chiles.
I had several Mexican women in my life growing up. They would often cook for our family, and chile rellenos was one of our favorite dishes. These women cleaned our house, as we lived close to the Mexican border, and it was common among southern California residents to have Mexican housekeepers and gardeners — a piece of history more infused with love than I think many people realize.
Two things always impressed me about these women — the most significant in my life was Reina. They were nurturing mothers and transferred that affection to me. They were quickly elevated to auntie status, because of their open-armed hearts. Second to their embracing manner, was their competency at cooking and at maintaining Mexican cooking techniques.
And so it was, that often on a Friday afternoon, I watched as Reina roasted peppers over our gas flame, until they blackened and softened and were ready to peel and stuff. I was very fortunate. These memories and the taste of that authentic food shaped me, in part, to be who I am. Mexican food, homemade, is still my favorite go-to comfort food.
Just as the Mexican culture is unreserved and welcoming, so, too, is the food.
The best way to roast poblano peppers for salsa
Roasted Poblano-Watermelon Salsa with Feta is easy to make. But the one cooking step will perhaps even bring you pleasure.
You can certainly roast your peppers over a flame! Or do as I do, in the skillet. It is still an excellent and authentic approach, and very rewarding. I give detailed instructions in the recipe below for how to roast poblanos in a skillet.
See if you don’t feel a connectedness to the Mexican culture as you blacken, steam, peel and chop the peppers — an easy and fun process.
What do poblanos taste like
No pepper compares to poblanos, in my opinion. They are smoky, complex, spicy, rich, deep and a teeny bit sweet.
Enjoy them with quenching flavors, in case you choose spicy ones! Poblanos do vary quite a bit: some aren’t very spicy, and others are quite spicy.
What to eat with Roasted Poblano-Watermelon Salsa
It’s absolutely perfect with steak! Grilled steak in the summer, when poblanos are growing.
My one tip about cooking steak, if you go that route:
Learn to use your finger to test for doneness, if you don’t already. Chefs don’t use this technique because it’s fancy and tricky. Just the opposite: pressing your finger in the center of cooking steaks (or burgers for that matter) is the easiest and most accurate way to tell if your steaks are done. Cutting into the center of one or using a thermometer is not necessary. Here’s one way to approach the finger test. Over time you will you learn from experience. You’ll push down on the center of the steak (no, it’s not too hot) and know for certain that it’s medium rare… or whatever. I hope you’ll try this method and be liberated to the poetic side of scientific cooking.
Roasted Poblano-Watermelon Salsa is also good with ground meat, chicken, meaty fish like swordfish steaks or fresh tuna. Or enjoy with a vegetarian feast, with rice and beans and various condiments.
Roasted Poblano-Watermelon Salsa with feta
- 3 cups watermelon cubed, 1/2"-3/4" cubes
- 2 poblano peppers
- ½ cup feta cheese sliced and broken into pieces (crumbled is okay too)
- 1 tsp. avocado oil
- Heat fat over medium heat in a small skillet. Add peppers and cover for 5 minutes.
- Turn heat to low and rotate peppers to their second side, being very careful of spattering oil. Cover again for 5 minutes.
- Turn peppers to their third side and cook, covered, an additional 5 minutes. Remove from heat and place in small paper bag, so peppers can steam and cool.
- Peel peppers and chop into approximately 1/2"-3/4" squares. (Remove and discard seeds, unless you want the salsa extra spicy.) Combine peppers and remaining ingredients in medium size bowl and stir to mix, being careful to keep some slices of feta larger for a pretty presentation.
- Serve; or refrigerate up to one day.