Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A rambly salsa recipe.

This past weekend our town was holding it's annual Salsa Festival, which happens to be held a few blocks down from our house. After a lazy Saturday morning, we walked down in hopes of enjoying lots of tasty, free, salsa samples. The closer we got, the more over-whelming the crowd became, so we ditched at the last minute. We walked around the festival to a hole-in-the-wall restaurant that sells delicious, authentic $1 tacos. Every word on the menu is in Spanish and our ordering process involves the cook holding up various meats and ingredients for us to point to. It's delicious, cheap and a good reminder that we need to learn some Spanish.

On every table, they have drizzly, not-too-hot, flavorful salsa. The kind you can splash on an omelet or taco, or shovel into your mouth with a tortilla chip. (Or, pour over Greek yogurt and eat with your husbands new rice & quinoa crackers from Cosco that are incredible and gluten-free.) It was so good; it inspired me.

Since we didn't get our fill on salsa at the festival and we have tons of tomatoes laying around, I decided to try a new recipe. My housemate Cynthia recently picked up a Mexican cookbook at a local grocery store. It's a collection of family favorites from people that live nearby, in this primarily-Hispanic town of ours. There were a few pages dedicated to salsa recipes, but I picked the first one I saw: table salsa. Not only did the title have me imagining classic restaurant salsa, it also didn't call for any cilantro (Matt's archenemy in the kitchen).

Table Salsa: Original Recipe

4 whole tomatoes, chopped    1/2 clove garlic
1 jalenpeno chile, chopped      1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 small onion, chopped         1/2 tsp. salt
1 (6oz) can tomato paste         1/4 tsp. paprika    
1 minced chilitepin                   1 tbsp. vinegar

Mix all ingredients, adding seasonings last, in a blender or food processor. Mix for desired thickness. Salsa will keep for a week refrigerated in a closed container.

The original recipe is really good. Obviously the quality of your salsa all comes down to the quality of your tomatoes. Ours were a bit too ripe and needed some boost in flavor, so I made some changes to the recipe. Like I said, it's a great recipe, most of my changes are just preferences (I never turn down an opportunity to add lime and can never get enough garlic).

The tomatoes I was using were garden fresh and the skins were a bit haggard, so I ended up peeling the skins off with heat before chopping them. I don't know what a chilitepin is or where to get one, so I omitted that. I also added twice as much garlic and cut the amount of paprika in half, adding only a pinch. I squeezed in half a lime and added a splash of balsamic vinegar to increase depth of flavor. And, like a true American, I added a teaspoon of white sugar. I also added in more chopped onion for a bit of crunch. So, here is my altered recipe: 

4 whole tomatoes, chopped and peeled       1 large clove garlic 
1 jalenpeno chile, chopped                                   1 small pinch paprika
1/2 cup chopped white onion                             1 tbsp. white vinegar             
1 (6oz) can tomato paste                                     1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. white sugar (optional and probably unnecessary)
juice from 1/2 of a lime
salt & pepper to taste
1. Combine tomatoes, jalenpeno, tomato paste, lime juice and half the amount of onions into a blender or food processor. Pulse a few times. 
2. Add in the remaining ingredients and blend for desired thickness. 
3. Stir in the rest of the onion.
4. Chill for at least an hour before serving to allow the flavors to set.               


  1. that looks delicious and must be a wonderful cookbook. and yes, you definitely need to learn some spanish! next challenge, figure out how to can that salsa so you can take it with you to the south and eat garden fresh tomatoes in february!

  2. Mmmmm! I'll have to try this with my tacos next Tuesday :D I'm moving out of the college dorms, meaning that I won't have a meal plan D: So I will have to steal a few of your recipes!