I am addicted to salsa…
There, I admitted it. I think I’ve made some progress today!
Unfortunately, salsa from a jar just doesn’t cut it. It’s hard to eat the pale, flavorless brand name picante that lines the shelves at the local supermarket, when I know that with a bit of tinkering, a delicious medley of flavor is awaiting.
So, I started the great salsa experiment.
First off, let’s introduce the ingredients, in order of how quickly I remember them:
- 10-12 medium-sized tomatoes
- 8-10 small to medium-sized tomatilloes
- Ground pepper
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Chili powder
- Cumin (I know that there’s cumin in chili powder, I just like more)
- Mexican oregano
- Fresh cilantro (you can substitue ground coriander to a similar effect, but fresh cilantro is much better)
- Peppers (I used chile de arbol, aka dried red chili peppers)
Hardware needs consist of:
- Two glass pans (it’s very important to use glass, because the acid in the tomatoes will destroy metal pans). I used one 8×13 and one 8×8.
- Food processor
- Medium sized bowl with a lid
Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cut the green portions of the tomatoes out and throw them away. Then cut each tomato in half, and rest them in the larger pan. If you have stomach problems, you can de-seed the tomatoes without affecting the flavor of the final product, but I enjoy using every last little bit of what I have, so I just cut them in half and let them be.
You will do a similar process to the tomatilloes after you get them out of their protective leafy coverings, then place those in the smaller pan.
Now comes the seasoning!
Add these to taste, really. I added enough salt and pepper to lightly cover all the tomatoes and tomatilloes, then liberally sprinkled the chili powder, cumin, garlic, and onion powder. (I used about 4-5 tablespoons of each.) I then split up the entire 1/4 oz of Mexican oregano between the two pans, then left them to cook in the oven for 2 full hours.
(Warning: the smell will fill the whole house and make everyone hungry. It’s best to have something to eat while this is cooking)
When your pre-salsa has cooked for 2 hours, carefully take the pans out of the oven, and carefully move the contents into your food processor.
Add your preferred peppers for spiciness and extra flavor. (Note: even if the peppers aren’t spicy to taste, cleaning fresh peppers in the sink with your bare hands is not advised, especially cleaning out the inside of garden grown jalapenos with your thumbnail. Seriously, don’t do that. You’ll get pepper oil underneath your thumbnail and it will burn for hours. HOURS!!!)
Now, add your cilantro. I like cilantro a lot, so I added a lot. Fresh cilantro really adds a lot of good flavor to this salsa.
Now, do ten one-to-two second pulses to make sure that everything gets good and combined. Move your salsa from the food processor to a medium sized bowl with a lid. (If you like lime-y salsa, you can add the juice of one lime to the mixture before processing)
Now comes the hard part…
Leave your salsa covered in the fridge overnight to let the flavors mingle and improve. Serve with chips, or on dinner, or with a spoon if you’re like me. (Spoonful of salsa, yum!)
I’ve found that this recipe makes enough salsa for a full week of snacking for me and my wife. It’s flavorful, immensely better than jarred picante sauce, and best of all, it’s cheap! Plus, you get the joy of knowing that if the Salsa Makers Union goes on strike, you won’t be forced to do without your south of the border treats!