A few years ago, salsa became the number-one selling condiment in the U.S., knocking out ketchup. And for good reason: salsa is spicy, light and fun whereas ketchup is plodding and heavy. Growing up, I could never understand people who doused ketchup over everything. But, to be fair, they probably thought it was weird that I dumped hot sauce over everything. I've mentioned before that while I love Tex-Mex, I'm all Tex with (alas) no Mex. But in Texas, it doesn't matter what your roots are, every family has at least one homemade salsa recipe and here's my family's. It’s fresh, fast and easy, and if you like the flavors of lime, tomato and cilantro, you might like it, too. You can use either canned or fresh tomatoes, depending on the season, but make sure everything else is fresh—especially the garlic, peppers, lime juice and cilantro--or it won’t taste bright and lively. And the recipe also calls for chile powder. If you don’t make your own chile powder (recommended, but not necessary) be sure and choose the darkest chile powder you can find. Whole Foods’ Valle Del Sol chile powder has a pretty complex flavor and it has no funky fillers. Now for a full disclosure: I don’t use measurements. Only when I bake do I follow a recipe exactly (because baking is chemistry and you just can’t mess with that). But when doing savory stuff I usually make it up as I go along and this recipe is no different; I watched my uncle make it one day and that’s how I learned. But, I just made a batch and wrote down what I did, so this is what follows. Also, feel free to adjust the peppers and garlic to your spice preference—-I like things hot and garlicy, but not everyone is inclined that way.
28 oz. can of tomatoes (or about a pound of fresh roma tomatoes, chopped)
2 serrano peppers, diced (or you can substitute 2 jalapenos, which are milder. Be sure and either wear gloves or wash your hands immediately after chopping the peppers so you don’t burn other parts of yourself)
1 cup of cilantro leaves
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup diced onion
2 Tbs of chile powder (add more to taste, if you like)
Salt to taste
a dash of sugar
Juice from 1/2 lime
Put all ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth. Taste it, and see if it needs any more spices. When done, you can serve it with some cilantro leaves on top to make it look pretty.
Makes about 4 cups. Will keep in fridge for one week.