Salsa for Psychos

I’ve tried a lot of different things in my life, but somehow I’ve never made salsa before (I know, crazy, right? Don’t attack me; some things just slip through the cracks!) In any case, thanks to some researching online and asking friends on Facebook, I put together my thoughts about trying my hand at making my own. The final recipe is posted below, but I started this post yesterday after assembling it the first time–before the final product. I have to give a special thanks to Sue Talbert for giving me that push to make it go from good to great. Of course there are other ingredients that I could have added–and may still try the next time I make some–but for one, I didn’t have any green peppers on hand to throw in, and I’m still on ‘barely speaking terms’ with green peppers as it is. Long story short, understand that for me, salsa is a work in progress.

I started writing this yesterday afternoon before serving it to anyone besides Patrick and Todd, the two I used to see if it tasted OK. Here’s what I wrote: “My plan is to use my class tonight as my guinea pigs to see if I can actually make edible salsa or not. I did follow most everyone’s recipes, with a slight change maybe here or there. Patrick, who loves salsa from a jar but hates tomatoes, didn’t really care for it right after I mixed it, saying it was “too much of a tomato taste.” I’m going to have him try it again after it sits for a while, but he sort of discredited himself as a food critic by not liking tomatoes in the first place! I listed the amounts that I used (when I actually measured amounts, that is) but realize that this makes a large amount of salsa. We’ll see how much I have left after class tonight. I also had originally planned to process some of the tomatoes and chop some afterwards to add to the mix to add texture, but once I had it made it didn’t look or taste how I was expecting so I processed them all. It still has a chunky feel but seems to come together better. Again, the jury is still out on whether it’s good or not.”

OK, so that was yesterday. When Todd came home later in the afternoon, I had him try it and he had exactly the same reaction as Patrick: “too tomatoey.” He also didn’t care for it, but couldn’t say what it needed. I had no idea. The recipes were supposed to be good, right? So many people had given me the same list of ingredients that I couldn’t have been that off… But it needed that certain je ne said quos that escaped me. I even toyed with putting my usual secret ingredient into the mix–hamburger dill pickle juice. It works magic on potato salad and other things, but salsa? By this time Todd was actually laughing out loud at me thinking I had finally gone over the edge. He kept saying I was thinking about it too much and should just let it go. By this time, though, too, I had too much invested! (Plus, what would I serve for snack if I had no salsa?!) It had quickly turned into a quest I was not going to give up without a fight.

Posting the question on Facebook let me know that my instincts were right. The salsa needed vinegar to cut the acid in the tomato. After adding it and letting it mix a couple more hours, something wonderful happened: it started to taste really good. Although no one in the class mentioned it one way or the other (which is fine; I didn’t exactly share my newfound salsa neurosis with them), once class was over, I asked Patrick if he would try it again. He was very reluctant, but did oblige. These were his exact words: “This is the best salsa I’ve ever eaten! How can something that tasted so bad earlier taste so good now?!” Woohoo. In fact, as you can see from the pictures below, Ben, Andrew, and Chloe also really liked it and made short work of the remaining tortilla chips. In the end, I was very pleased with the end result and am looking forward to having some for lunch. Perhaps it will taste even better today.

As some of you know already, I don’t measure a lot of things when cooking, so this recipe is hard to quantify. I don’t know how much vinegar (and a little pickle juice) I actually poured in, but just added it until I could taste a difference.

Fresh Salsa

*9 slicer tomatoes (they were small) *of course this would be exponentially better with fresh tomatoes grown from the garden, but I didn’t have any
*4 teeny tiny roma tomatoes (again they were almost miniature!)
*1 can Ro-tel tomatoes wtih green chiles
*1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
*3 T olive oil
*almost one finely chopped vidalia onion
*lime juice
*minced garlic
*salt and pepper
*cilantro, chopped, about 2 small bunches (meaning I grabbed a ‘handful’ and pinched it off the larger bunch)
*1 T chopped jalapenos from a can (I cheated, but didn’t want today to be the day I experiemented with this procedure)
*pickle juice and/or vinegar

Add two cans of tomatoes into food processor and combine with fresh tomaotes, garlic, olive oil, cilantro, jalapenos, half the onion, salt and pepper. Process until it reaches desired consistency. Refrigerate at least one hour to let flavors combine.

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