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Salsa...taste the rainbow!

32 comments /

Salsa.  I talk about it constantly.  Well, kinda.  I really do talk about it...or at least mention it...fairly often.  Usually I'll give a little almost-recipe, maybe more like a method in the actual post in which I mention the salsa.  Well, today...as I bask in the glory that is my end of summer tomato and chile season...I wanted to give a big post full of almost-recipes, more like methods!  Blender salsas in all shades of the rainbow grace our kitchen at any given time...and here are just a few examples of the flavor-packed, spicy (or not, it's up to you), must-have condiment!
The most important thing to remember is...use what you've got...what's in season...what you've been gifted...what is available at your local market.  I am so fortunate this year to have three gardens overflowing with salsa-ready fruits, veggies, and herbs!  I have three types of heirlooms this year...tigerellas, sunrays, and green zebras.  My lovely, sharing neighbors have jalapeños, habañeros, and romas.  My community garden has cherry tomatoes in all colors, tomatillos, poblanos, and cilantro.  Salsa-lovers bliss!
So, what are my salsa "essentials"?  It's pretty simple.  

Choose one...or a combination of...the (primary) ingredients on each line:
~tomatoes (any kind)/tomatillos
~chiles (fresh or dried)
~garlic
~water/stock/broth
~salt

Choose one...or a combination of...these (secondary) optional ingredients:
~cilantro
~cumin
~onion
~freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice

Choose a cooking method:
~simmering
~oven-roasting
~flame-roasting
~toasting

Okay, once you've gathered your primary ingredients and your secondary ingredients...and chosen your cooking method, the only thing left to dig out is your blender.  

If you're simmering, combine chose primary ingredients (except chosen liquid and salt)  in a pot and just barely cover with water.  Bring to a boil, then lower to a very gentle simmer and cook until everything just starts to get soft.  Lift out the ingredients with a slotted spoon and place in the jar of the blender.

 OR

Place those same ingredients on a lined sheet tray and roast in oven until soft.  Or put on a piece of foil under the broiler until beautifully charred...or on the grates of a grill...or over the flame on your gas stove.  Alternately, you can toast them on top of a comal.  If using dried chiles in any of these methods, watch them closely...you just want a few seconds of toasting, then set them in the hottest tap water to plump up a bit while everything else finishes charring.  Transfer all to the jar of a blender.

THEN

Add a bit of your liquid and some salt.  Blend until well combined.  If you want a thinner salsa, add more liquid.  Taste and adjust salt as needed.  This is the time to add optional ingredients.  Throw in a handful of cilantro...or a few big pinches of cumin (best in red salsas).  If I'm adding onion, occasionally I'll add it earlier if I'm fire-roasting and put it in blender with the rest of ingredients...or else I'll chop a raw onion very small and stir it in in the end.  Add a few squeezes of lime or lemon juice and stir in for contrast in the end, if you wish (I usually don't...but occasionally I do...).

Really, the amounts vary...I use what I have at the time.   Once you've made it a few times, you'll be able to gauge about how much salsa you'll end up with from the amount of ingredients you use.  More often than not, I end up with about a quart.  Here's some examples of what different choices of ingredients will yield... Use your tastes and experiment to come up with  your favorite combination!

For all of the following salsas, I used an open flame (which is definitely my preferred method, using either a grill or the broiler...it produces the best, deepest, earthiest flavor):

Salsa Verde
(tomatillos, a green zebra, green jalapeños, garlic, water, salt, cilantro)
Salsa Amarillo
(Sunrays, Tigerellas, yellow cherry tomatoes, habañeros, garlic, water, salt)
Salsa Rojo 
lighter in color
(tigerellas, romas, red jalapeños, red cherry tomatoes, garlic, water, salt)
Salsa Rojo
darker in color
(tomatillos, dried chiles...guajillos & arbol...1 regular red tomato, garlic, salt, water, cumin, cilantro, small diced onion)

Yellowish-Green
(tigerellas, green cayenne, garlic, water, salt, cilantro)
So yeah, the varieties are endless.  Play around a bit and you'll come up with your own favorite combinations.  My personal favorites are the Salsa Verde and the darker Salsa Rojo....but any salsa is good.  Using all tomatoes (as opposed to tomatillos) makes for a somewhat "mealier" salsa.  Tomatillos (even in red salsas) result in a much smoother texture.  You may expect me to say this...don't skip the garlic. EVER.  Who knows, you may like other things in your salsa...rock on, friend!



*This post is linked to:

*Update 12/23/10: I'm also sharing this post w/ the 12 Days of Bloggie-mas!

32 comments

  1. OMG! This looks stunning. The display of the salsas really caught my attention too.

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  2. wow what a tempting salsa n that to with so many variations ..thank q so much dear for sharing this wonderful post ...

    Satya
    http://www.superyummyrecipes.com

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  3. Excellent! I have so much chili of all varieties overflowing in my kitchen and I give a lot of it away. Looks great. I have tried all those recipes and love them all. I'm going to have to jar some because they keep coming. Take care, beautiful pictures.

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  4. Quick, I need some salsa for my tamales! LOL What wonderful variety! Have you tried fermenting some? I did some peach salsa and it has this fizzy bite to it now, pretty darn cool, but it is a raw salsa, much more like pico de gallo. I have to try some of your ideas! Once you make your own, store bought is like pffftt! :) Alex

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  5. The photos alone tell the story. Great post. I love your Project Food Blog post too...lots of cool photos of you when you were a sprite!

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  6. the pictures really do say it all. I didn't realize that salsa was so easy to make (well) until recently.

    My mother-in-law brought over a couple bottles recently and they disappeared in about two days.

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  7. It's a salsa smorgasbord! Joe would think he had died and gone to heaven with all that salsa, lol. Gorgeous photos Heather and they all look absolutely delish!

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  8. These are all so pretty! I love how you made a different salsa for each tomato! Very cute.

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  9. How awesome! Other then some simple salsa I make myself I've never really known what goes into all the varieties. I'm waiting for girlichef to post her salsa store so I can be the first sale!

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  10. Salsa is my favorite dips for my chips! I lve everything but I haven't done salsa verde...

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  11. I tend to prefer green salsas, but you have made them all look good!

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  12. I never "salsa many" (saw so many) great recipes for salsas. I like them all, despite this stuff you say about summer ending. Summer isn't ending. Nope. Don't wanna hear it.

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  13. we love salsa around here..and have tons of tomatoes/peppers...so this couldn't have come at a better time. thanks for the tips!

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  14. Love d shades!!!Awesome..n love d variety too with simple ings!

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  15. I love your mix and match! Would like a jar of each!

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  16. Gorgeous salsas...I think the green is my favorite. I can eat salsa every day and never get tired of it. :)

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  17. I am tempted to try all of your salsas! They are so colourful and sound so tasty!!

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  18. Hi,

    awesome awesome...lovely shades of colour...love salsa...

    missed blog hop this week as well..thought of linking today but linky's closed!!you havent added my blog to your reading list!!

    Dr.Sameena@

    www.myeasytocookrecipes.blogspot.com

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  19. I love the way you go all out......this is salsa to the extreme. I'd love to come over and taste the rainbow:)

    I'll bring the beans - LOL!

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  20. This is a great post! I love the guidelines...and the room for wild creativity. I'm a salsa lover too!

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  21. I love your photos. I grow many varieties of Heirloom tomatoes. I never ever ever thought to combine my green zebras with my tomatillos. WhY didn't I think of that?

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  22. LOVE the varied salsas and the gifts of all the gardens around you have been put to GREAT use. Superb

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  23. Oh my goodness, I almost feel a little naughty enjoying this post so much. Viva la Salsa!

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  24. Girlie, you've been busy! Love all the salsas. They look sooooo good! Hey thanks for linking today. Love having you as part of the group! Angie

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  25. Oh shoot!!..they look so nice now i am gonna have to go try atleast one of these!

    US Masala

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  26. Oh man....those are some gorgeous salsas! I'm going to run over and raid my neighbors garden. She's so silly...she's in her 90's and its just her. Yet she has planted 4 or 5 tomato plants!

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  27. I really do need to perfect a good salsa recipe. This is a great post to get me started. Thanks for this Heather.

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  28. I like the combo of tomatoes and tomatillos, I've never thought of doing that but I'm going to have to try it. These all look really good.

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  29. Wonderful salsas--I'll take one of each please! ;-)

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