The salsa that has us abolishing the jarred stuff

Sure, it's easier to grab a $6 jar of salsa off the grocery store shelf, but is it better? The pros at the Southern Living Test Kitchen (where, ahem, Delta is the official faucet) closed the gap between simplicity and quality with this authentic chip dip that also costs less to make than ready-made salsa. Pan-roasting tomatoes, peppers and onions draws out their sweetness; fresh garlic, cilantro and lime counter with a fresh edge. Double up on chips: You'll be scooping for a while.

Ingredients

3 plum tomatoes, halved
3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 red or green jalapeño pepper, halved
1 medium-size white onion, cut into 16 wedges
1½ Tbsp. fresh lime juice
¾ tsp. kosher salt
⅓ c. chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Directions

1. Heat a 12-inch cast-iron skillet or griddle over medium heat 5 minutes. Place tomatoes, cut side down, in skillet, spacing evenly; add garlic and jalapeño pepper. Cook, turning occasionally, about 6 minutes or until slightly charred and softened.
2. Transfer tomatoes and jalapeño pepper to a blender or food processor. Peel garlic, and place in blender.
3. Add onion wedges to skillet, and cook 5 to 6 minutes or until slightly charred and softened. Transfer onions to blender.
4. Process vegetables 30 to 40 seconds or to desired consistency. Add lime juice and salt to blender, and process until combined. Cool completely (about 10 minutes).
5. Stir in cilantro. Serve at room temperature, or refrigerate in an airtight container up to 3 days.

TIP: To keep your cast iron perfectly seasoned, skip the soap when cleaning. Scrub using a stiff brush until clean under running water while the cast iron is still warm but cool enough to handle. Dry thoroughly and then rub with a touch of vegetable oil before storing.