Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Cinco de Mayo--Salsa

For as long as I can remember, I always thought that salsa was meant to be chunky. I was happy buying the classic Pace salsa: jarred, chunky, and as unauthentic as you can get. But recently, I discovered that true Mexican salsa is more blended. I like to compare American salsa and Mexican salsa with peanut butter. Americanized salsa is like chunky peanut butter and Mexican salsa is like smooth peanut butter. Both consist of the same ingredients, but are prepared in different ways. The first experience I had with real salsa was in Oregon, when a friend made Tomatillo salsa. I was hooked at first bite. It was spicy yet sweet, and smooth yet not overly blended. 
And what is salsa without tortilla chips? My favorite brand is Santitas. (Plus they are usually the cheapest of all the brands--thank you grocery stores!) 
However, I must share with you my recent discovery and infatuation with homemade baked tortilla chips. Baked, spicy, crunchy--gah, so good! Okay, enough with my ranting and on with the recipes!

Authentic Salsa
Yield: About 6 cups (AKA a ginormous batch)

  • 28-ounce can whole tomatoes (peeled) with juice
  • 2 10-ounce cans Rotel (diced tomatoes with green chilies)
  • ¼ cup chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 jalepeƱo, quartered and sliced thin
  • ½ cup cilantro
  • Juice from ½ a fresh lime 
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin

  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor. Pulse until you get desired consistency. Refrigerate for at least one hour, and then serve with your favorite tortilla chips.
  2. Note: This makes a large quantity, so you may have to work in batches.
  3. Another note: If you prefer a milder salsa, remove the seeds from the jalapeno.
Pico de Gallo (salsa, but not really)
  • 2 cups tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1/4 cup green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 handful cilantro, chopped
  • cumin to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste 
  1. Mix everything in a bowl. Yep, that's it.
Tomatillo Salsa
  • 5 large tomatillos, about 2.5 pounds
  • 2 medium Vidalia onions, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 jalapeno or habanero pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 tablespoons cilantro leaves
  • 1 avocado
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Place tomatillos, onions, garlic cloves, and jalapeno (or habanero) into a small roasting pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast at 375°F for 1 hour, until the vegetables have released their juices and the tomatillos are slightly browned. Place cilantro into a food processor and pour in cooked tomatillo mixture. Puree the mixture, adjust seasonings if necessary. Add in the avocado and puree a bit more. 
  3. Note: You can either roast your veggies or puree them raw.
Baked Tortilla Chips
  • corn or flour tortillas
  • spices: salt, pepper, garlic, cumin, basil, chili powder, cayenne pepper, etc.
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Lay the tortillas on a cutting board. Stack in a pile. Slice tortillas with a knife, cutting into 4-8 equal triangles (cut like you would a round pizza).
  3. Arrange tortilla triangles in a single layer on baking sheets. Lightly spray with vegetable or olive oil (optional). Sprinkle with spices. Bake for about 6-7 minutes until crisp and the edges start to curl and turn slightly brown. Watch chips carefully after 5 minutes because they can burn easily. 
  4. Once chips are done, removed from the oven to cool. They will continue to crisp as they cool.

 Oh yeah, I almost forgot! Since Cinco de Mayo is just a day away, I thought that I would share this with you. If you are wondering, this is the t-shirt that I will be wearing on May 5, 2011. Yes, there are 5 jars of Mayo on my t-shirt. Isn't it fantastic? Haha :)  Also, Cinco de Mayo is the same day as my best friend's birthday. So Happy Birthday Carl. Think of me when you eat salsa (and Mayo).


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