Jen’s Famous Salsa

I don’t know about you but I have my go-to dish for any kind of potluck or get together. It’s become even more important now that we’re gluten free. I have to be able to bring something that I like and that might end up being the only thing that I eat.

So I bring salsa. I grew up in Southern California and spent four years in Arizona so I love good Mexican food. When I moved to the Midwest, I made salsa and tacos to anyone who would eat them. And got a lot of requests for my salsa recipe. Which is more of a taste-as-I-go-along than a real recipe. But for all of you who asked, I actually decided to take pictures and make notes when I made salsa this last time. So, in all it’s glory, here’s my salsa recipe.

Yummy salsa ingredients

  • 6-8 ripe, flavorful tomatoes
  • 1-2 bunches of green onions
  • 1-2 bunches of cilantro
  • 1-3 jalepeños
  • 1 lime
  • kosher salt

Before you begin you need to roast your jalepeños. I turn my oven on to 400 degrees and spray the peppers with olive oil and put them directly on the rack. By the time I’m ready for them, they’re usually nice and roasted. You could also use your broiler, but you’ll need to watch them so they don’t burn.

Start with 6-8 tomatoes. The flavor of the tomatoes will have a huge impact on the flavor of your salsa. I had horrible experiences trying to get good tomatoes in the winter in the Midwest. I had slightly better success with Roma tomatoes and even tried some canned tomatoes once (not too  bad if you’re desperate). Now I generally get the expensive, vine-ripened ones.

Chunk up the tomatoes and throw them in your food processor. You can make salsa without a food processor but it’s hard to get the onions and jalepeños small enough so they blend seamlessly with the tomatoes. You don’t want a big bite of spicy (or maybe you do!)

Pulse the food processor so you don’t end up with tomato soup. Keep the tomatoes chunky.

Dump the chopped tomatoes into a big, non-reactive bowl. If you put tomatoes in a metal bowl, they will start to taste like metal. Use glass, ceramic, or plastic. Liberally add kosher salt in a layer over the tomatoes. This will pull the juices out of the tomatoes. You will need more salt than you think. A lot more.


Next comes the cilantro. It looks like flat leaved parsley but it has a peppery flavor. Rinse well and chop off most of the stems. Cut into a couple of big chunks and throw in the food processor. Pulse, dump in the bowl with the tomatoes.

Take a bunch of green onions and cut off the roots and any of the tops that are ugly and raggedy. Cut into  several big chunks and put in the food processor. Pulse, but not all the way because you want to add your jalepeños with them.
Your jalepeños should look blackened and crispy when you pull them out of the oven. You’ll want to cut the stems off then cut them down the center. Scrape out the seeds and the pith with the edge of your knife, since these are the spiciest parts. If you want that, great!

Chop into a couple of pieces and add to the green onions in your food processor. This time you want to finely process them so they will blend nicely and evenly with your tomatoes and cilantro.
I like to squeeze half a lime in my salsa to give it a fresh kick. Plus, I just like lime. To make squeezing easy, roll the lime with the palm of your hand against the countertop to loosen the juices. Cut in half and pop out any seeds that are visible. Squeeze or use a citrus reamer.

The finished product. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Serve with your favorite tortilla chips or make your own by frying cut up corn tortillas in hot oil.

Photobucket