So, I may be a little picky when it comes to salsa. I had one I liked, a “must be refrigerated at all times,” store bought variety. They changed the recipe. Repeat after me: Do not fix what is not broken. I want it to be fresh. I want it to have an afterburn but not enough to make me skimp when loading up the chip.
The obvious answer is to make your own. I started about five years ago. It’s worth it, and it’s a relatively easy ordeal, very little actual cooking time, lots of warming the autumn-cooled house with the oven on while you busy yourself elsewhere.
And it all starts with tomatoes. Juicy, meaty, lovely tomatoes from the garden or your farmer’s market or in your CSA box or your local supermarket or big box store. Get some. Cut ’em into lovely chunks and place, skin side down, on a pan with walls (to prevent drips in the oven).
Then come the peppers. I like to use an even pepper: tomato ratio, but not all of my peppers are of the hot variety. On this cookie sheet: an entire bulb of garlic, one large red onion, quartered, two whole sweet red bell peppers, five jalapeños, three smallish poblanos (grown by me), three Anaheim peppers and three small hot red chili peppers (also grown by me). Sliced in half and seeded. Feel free to leave your seeds in if you like to walk on the wild side. Drizzle both sheets with a small amount of olive oil and stick them in the preheated oven.
After about an hour to an hour and a half at 325 the peppers are nice and charred and the tomatoes are just starting to get bits of char on the tips. The garlic should be like butter. Let them cool down a bit.
When they are cool enough to handle, toss them all into your food processor. Begin to pulse. Stop and push down any stubborn chunks that try to escape the blade.
Don’t overdo it here. Leave a bunch of chunks because we have a few more things to go in. Just try to get the peppers and the tomatoes evenly distributed throughout the bowl of the food processor.
On top add a handful of cilantro leaves, the juice of one lime, cumin, salt and fresh black pepper. Mix again until the salsa is thick but you can still see visible pepper chunks here and there.
And you’re ready to eat. You were expecting more? That’s it. There’s nothing to it.
You can store it in the fridge for about 5 days or you could can it if you’re that kind of person, but consider omitting the fresh cilantro. (Read: Omit fresh cilantro)
Or just dig in. Immediately. And have your kids begin to beg instantly and ask what meal I made it for and when we’re eating it and why it isn’t tonight. Just threaten not to share if they don’t stop asking questions.