Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Best. Salsa. Ever.

I love, love, love Mexican food. Or maybe I should be more clear. I love, love, LOVE chips and salsa. Which is funny because growing up I never really was a fan. Probably because the jarred salsa was so pervasive. At parties, holidays, BBQs. It was jarred salsa and Tostitos. Don't get me wrong I like Tostitos, salty and crunchy? What's not to like? But once I tasted real salsa and real corn chips, the kind you get at a quality mom-and-pop Mexican place. . . I was hooked. And weirdly enough, I hardly ever get cravings for "Mexican food." When I'm jonesing to go out to my favorite Mexican place it's always because I'm craving their chips and salsa. For me, salsa is a Mexican place's claim to fame . . if it's not good, I don't go back.

A couple things about salsa. First, if you know the name of this blog, you know that I'm NOT a raw tomato fan. I can do cooked tomatoes but NOT big chunks of them. So chunky salsa (which most jarred salsas are) is not my thing. Second, the salsas I get at my favorite Mexican places have that awesome fresh taste where you can really taste the herbiness of the cilantro, the bite of the onion and the tang of the lime juice. Like everything that was in it had just been yanked out of the ground and thrown in the blender and given right to me! Yummmm.

Recently I made one of my famous cheese quesadillas for lunch. It had been a while since I'd had the old cheddar and cilantro favorite (a new quesadilla had stolen my attention) so I was looking forward to it, when I noticed that the dregs of my salsa (yes, I caved and bought the only non-chunky jarred salsa I could find for home use) had started to go bad. Well, I had recently had a party where I served caprese skewers of raw cherry tomatoes, basil leaves and fresh mozzerella and I had leftover cherry tomatoes in my fridge! I also had an onion, some cilantro and some lime juice so I tried making my own salsa from what I had. Blech!! The raw tomato flavor was way too prominent and the salsa just didn't have the right kick to it.

Later, I search my Google reader for homemade salsa, determined to do it right. I found a very promising recipe on PW's site and her description of ideal salsa matched mine to a tee. Yesterday, I whipped it up, hoping to have found something good and Oh. My. Good. Gravy. This salsa was so amazing, I changed called Brad to let him know that I was changing our dinner plans so I had an excuse to eat more of this stuff. Yes, it's that good.

Best. Salsa. Ever.
(Recipe adapted from Pioneer Woman)

1 can (28 Ounce) Whole Tomatoes With Juice
2 cans (10 Ounce) Rotel (I used 2 cans of "mild" because I'm a weanie when it comes to spicy foods)
¼ cups Chopped Onion
1 clove Garlic, Minced
1 whole Jalapeno, Quartered And Sliced Thin (I omitted this. Again, I'm a wuss.)
¼ teaspoons Sugar
¼ teaspoons Salt
¼ teaspoons Ground Cumin
½ -1 cups Cilantro (more to taste!)
½ whole Lime Juice

Combine whole tomatoes, Rotel, onion, jalapeno, garlic, sugar, salt, cumin, lime juice, and cilantro in a blender or food processor. Pulse until you get the salsa to the consistency you’d like—I do about 10 to 15 pulses. Test seasonings with a tortilla chip and adjust as needed.

Refrigerate salsa for at least an hour. Serve with tortilla chips or cheese nachos.

Notes: I made a few changes to the quantities in my salsa. First, I used a whole onion since the one I had was tiny and it probably gave me more like 3/4 cups. Also, I used more like a full cup of cilantro because I adore the stuff. I thought it was perfect but the hubs thought the cilantro flavor could have been dialed back a bit. Adjust this based on your tastes. Also, I did need to add a couple pinches more of salt to bring out all the flavors, the 1/4 tsp just didn't do it for me. But every canned product has different amounts of sodium, so make sure you taste your salsa before adding more salt.

I thought the final product was wonderful. I was worried that all the canned tomatoes would be too much for me but it turns out that canned tomatoes are cooked ever so slightly before they are canned. I guess it's enough to get rid of that raw tomato flavor becuase I loved this stuff! And the spice is just right for me, a little kick but nothing that knocks you over. So fresh tasting, tangy. Just awesome. Brad loved it too, saying he really liked that it was a great consistency and not too chunky. (Thank-you-very-much). Good thing too, because this recipe makes a ton of salsa. Too bad we've already gone through a third of it in one day!


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