I’m posting this recipe for my son today.
He’s going to try his hand at making fresh salsa tonight for dinner as all of my kids attempt to make a meal without me completely. (Cue silent hopeful cheering – they’ve learned a lot of skills as I’ve taught them the lessons in the Kids Cook Real Food eCourse and it’s time to implement them on their own!)
I’ve made fresh salsa for years, sometimes with a recipe, but most of the time, especially lately, it’s just what I remember out of my head. That means it’s a little different every time, like when we get tomatillos in our CSA for example, but it’s been 100% delicious because I know the basic framework (and I have a few secrets up my sleeve).
I’m already mourning the end of the season and will have to grab a bunch of Roma tomatoes and peppers at the market in a week or two to try to make it last a little longer!
If you’ve never made homemade fresh salsa, my dears – you’re missing out. You must try it immediately if (and only if) you can still get in-season tomatoes in your area.
And if you’ve made fresh salsa many times, you’re still in for a treat today, because I bet I use some ingredients you’ve not tried before.
The best secret ingredients for salsa you’ll ever find – and if you don’t have one, just use another!
- 6–8 ripe, fresh tomatoes (Romas are best)
- 1 green pepper
- 1/2–1 Anaheim pepper (optional)
- 1 medium red onion
- 2–3 cloves garlic
- 1 jalapeno* (optional)
- 1/4–1/2 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 Tbs. lemon juice
- 1–3 Tbs. lime juice
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- chopped fresh cilantro to taste (optional)
- Dice tomatoes and put into a medium bowl. (If you get tired of dicing, throw the last few into the food processor. No one will know.)
- In a food processor, pulse 10-12 times to chop the onion and green pepper plus any other peppers. Add to bowl. (OR just dice them up with a knife.)
- Finely chop the garlic and jalapeno(s) by whizzing in the food processor (or use a knife)and stir into the salsa.
- Stir it all up with the cumin, lemon and lime juice and salt.
- Best if you can allow to sit for at least an hour to let the flavors meld. Still awesome if you eat it right away!
- Serve with fresh cilantro on top.
* On jalapenos – I’d feel irresponsible if I posted a recipe with a jalapeno and no safety instructions. The ribs and seeds are what add the heat, so cut them out and toss them for a mild salsa; include some or all for a hot and spicy salsa. Do NOT touch your eyes after cutting jalapenos! Many recommendations say to wear gloves; I usually just try not to touch the ribs or seeds with my fingers.
* If you’ve always wanted to buy the cute peppers at the Farmers’ Market but aren’t sure what to do with them, this is it. Toss in 1-3 random peppers: cayenne is excellent, spicy or mild banana peppers are great, and Anaheim really takes it to the next level.
* See below for other “star ingredient” notes.
* Lime juice is more important than the lemon juice, in my opinion. Add more to brighten it up if it seems a little boring.
* If the salsa tastes a bit flat, add more salt. Also remember to give it time and let the flavors blend together.
* Need spicier? More jalapeno, more seeds.
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The Secret Ingredient(s)
All of these “star player” ingredients take the salsa beyond “a nice bowl of diced tomatoes and green peppers” and make it amazing – you need to include at least some of them to take it from “ok” to “Yum!” and if you can manage all of them, do it.
- red onion – it just does something white onion can’t, but if you only have white, use it anyway
- fresh garlic – packs a punch of course, but again, as long as you have some other star players, you can cheat and use garlic powder
- lime juice – a twist that our family just loves
- cumin – I can’t tell you how much I love cumin. It makes everything better! I stole the idea to add it to salsa from our canned salsa recipe, which reminds us of our favorite Mexican restaurant!
- Anaheim peppers – switching the green pepper for part of an Ahaheim pepper is incredible. Truly, so, so good. Try colored bell peppers if you’re not crazy about green peppers in general, and try some poblano if you like spicy.
- salt – do NOT forget the salt. It makes all the difference. We love our Real Salt!
- fresh cilantro – takes it over the top if you have access, but if not, don’t worry – the salsa is still great without
- fresh, local, in-season tomatoes – honestly, if you don’t have fresh tomatoes, don’t bother. Just buy the salsa! This is a deal breaker for me.
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