Join in the dance: Tomato season is upon us … and salsa season too! Whether you grow your own or get them from the grocery store, seasonal ripe tomatoes have an unbeatable taste that is highlighted by the peppers and spices in salsa. Serve it with meat, seafood, and corn chips at your next picnic. Muy caliente!
Tomatoes and peppers: the base
Though you can make homemade salsa using canned tomatoes, we strongly recommend opting for fresh ones instead. Your salsa will stand out so much more than the storebought variety. All types of tomatoes are good, the important thing is to peel them and drain any excess juices from them, as this affects the salsa’s consistency.
Next comes the pepper, whose spiciness depends on the variety used. Jalapeno peppers are popular when it comes to Mexican salsa, as they are moderately hot. Habanero peppers are ideal for those who like to “play with fire.” As for chipotle, it has a smoky aroma that works especially well with stewed dishes or meat straight off the grill. Obviously, the more peppers you put into your salsa, the spicier it will be.
Looking for something a little milder? Balance out your salsa with a combination or hot and coloured peppers.
Onions and garlic: the perfect match
Salsa is not meant to be subtle; it should be overflowing with flavours. For a pronounced taste, onions and garlic are the way to go. While some swear only by yellow onions, others appreciate the sweetness of red onions. Otherwise, you can’t go wrong with green onions, which are reminiscent of chives … with a kick! You can also elevate your recipe with a few crushed cloves of garlic.
Vinegar, lemon, or lime: oh my!
When it comes to acidity, the possibilities are endless. Some may find that the tomato brings enough tartness, while others will want their salsa to pack more punch. That’s when adding a selection of vinegar (think white, cider, or white wine), or lime or lemon juice, comes into play. And you can combine these juices with more vinegar. Go loco!
Herbs and spices: perfect combos
Ground cumin is probably the most popular spice when it comes to homemade salsa. And it goes great with ground or fresh cilantro, as well as paprika. Or you can combine dried oregano with fresh cilantro. Add a pinch of salt and enjoy!
Traditionally, you would sauté the onions, and then the garlic, in olive oil for a few minutes, and add the remaining ingredients, simmering for 20 minutes or so. You can also add tomato paste to adjust the texture to your liking (optional).
However, you can also make a no-cook salsa picante, or go a completely different route, with a parsley, mint, and cilantro chimichurri or a mango and citrus chutney.
Let the experimenting begin!