Just in time for Cinco de Mayo, this is the fifth post in a series on salsas.
Salsa isn’t just for corn chips any more. This was my sudden mind-blowing, earth-shattering realization. It came way back during my college days after a working interview at one very famous Southwestern restaurant. They fed me dinner—a grilled tenderloin steak smothered in a smokey salsa—in exchange for my night’s work. I had only ever eaten steak plain, and my life would never be the same. I got the job. But more importantly, I opened my eyes to the possibilities of salsa.
Salsas, whether they’re made from chiles, tomatoes, tomatillos, avocados, or fruit, are an integral part of Mexican and Southwestern cuisines. They vary from mild to medium to spicy, and they can be served hot, at room temperature, or cold. Salsas can function as either dip or sauce (in fact, salsa is Spanish for sauce), and they are the perfect accompaniment to everything from eggs to tacos to rice and beans. They can transform a simple grilled steak, pork chop, chicken breast, fish fillet, or even veggie into a spectacular meal. It’s no wonder that salsa has overtaken ketchup as the most popular condiment in the U.S.
But while I’m singing the praises of salsa, I want to make clear that I mean homemade, from-scratch salsa. Homemade salsa is vibrant and fresh and delicious and healthy, and it can perk up anything you put it on. (In comparison, the store-bought stuff is appallingly expensive and completely tasteless.) And if there’s a batch in the fridge, it’s sure to inspire many amazing meals.
Pico de Gallo
4 Roma tomatoes, diced
½ small yellow onion, diced
2 jalapenos, seeded and minced
¼ cup minced cilantro
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
Toss together the tomatoes, onion, jalapenos, cilantro, and lime juice in a medium bowl and season to taste with salt.
Makes a generous 2 cups. A fresh, uncooked salsa also known as salsa fresca. Heat level: mild, depending on the jalapenos. If you like it hotter, use more jalapenos or substitute Serranos. The riper the tomatoes, the better. This ubiquitous salsa is good with everything from tortilla chips to tacos, fajitas, and quesadillas to grilled meat and seafood, and it adds zest to black beans, Mexican Rice, egg dishes, and more. Pico de Gallo is best a couple of hours after it’s made, once the flavors have had time to mingle. Keeps for a day or two tightly sealed in the refrigerator. Serve at room temperature.
More salsa recipes are available here.
Now, if you’re going to have great homemade salsa, you probably want some of this Guacamole to go with it.