Cooking on the Cheap: Salsa Roja

Leave a comment

August 11, 2009 by skwishface

As may have been mentioned before, I’m a Texas girl. There are certain culinary facts of life around these parts – we eat alot of beef, and we are very heavily influenced by our neighbors to the south. By which I mean Mexico.

Authentic Mexican cuisine can be found, but it’s the Tex-Mex that rules the food scene. Imagine if you will, a Texas chuckwagon cook saunters into a Mexican mamacita’s kitchen. He’s all sexy five-o-clock shadow and trail dust, she’s all big brown eyes and spices. Sparks fly instantly. “You don’t know what part of a cow to cook with!” he taunts, jabbing an accusing finger at the pot of menudo simmering away on the stove. “Well you wouldn’t know flavor if it kicked you in the cajones!” she retorts, waving a bundle of dried chiles in his face. He sweeps her into his embrace! The music rises!

Ahem. Anyway, Tex-Mex is the lovechild of that union. There is one very versatile condiment that is absolutely essential to a Tex-Mex meal. The salsa! It comes in a bajillion flavor variations, and it is entirely possible to spend way too much money on jars of the stuff. To save on the money, and to get the flavor I like, I make my own version of the classic red salsa.

Salsa Roja
1 medium can diced tomatoes
1 can rotel tomatoes/chiles
3-5 cloves garlic
2-3 jalapeno peppers, seeded to taste
1 handful fresh cilantro
salt, pepper, cumin to taste

I grew those canned tomatoes myself.

I grew those canned tomatoes myself.

First, crack open the cans and drain off the excess juices. Skip the draining, and you’ll have watery salsa. Which is fine, if you’re into that. I prefer a firmer salsa texture so it’ll stick to food better.

Pictures above: all the chopping and seeding of tomatoes that I didn't have to do.

Pictures above: all the chopping and seeding of tomatoes that I didn't have to do.

Set those tomatoes aside for a sec, and turn your attention to the other veggies. First, the garlic!

Poor innocent little cloves. I smash them!

Poor innocent little cloves. I smash them!

Then, the jalapenos!

Pretty little things, no? The smaller the pepper, the more fiery the insides.

Pretty little things, no? The smaller the pepper, the more fiery the insides.

Now, the Pioneer Woman would advise you to always wear gloves while chopping jalapenos. She’s not wrong, however I’d say that for the few little peppers in this recipe you’re safe to go gloveless. Just be careful to wash your hands after you chop and before you rub your eyes, then spend the next hour weeping and cursing the day. Not that I’ve ever done that (omg it was awful).

I like my salsa to have a respectable amount of heat, so I leave the seeds and ribs intact in one pepper. If you like less of a kick-in-the-face effect, certainly remove seeds from all the peppers.

Seriously. Tiny pepper = hot hot hot

Seriously. Tiny pepper = hot hot hot

For the other two peppers, gut them thoroughly. All ribs and seeds must go! That’s where the heat lives, ya know.

Dispose of the pepper guts carefully. Like, nuclear waste careful.

Dispose of the pepper guts carefully. Like, nuclear waste careful.

Next, grab your handful of cilantro.

My love for this herb knows no bounds.

My love for this herb knows no bounds.

Hack it into chunks.

Get yourself a face full of fresh green cilantro smell.

Get yourself a face full of fresh green cilantro smell.

Toss the tomatoes, peppers, garlic, salt, pepper, ground cumin into a blender.

I sure do loves me blender.

I sure do loves me blender.

Give that a whirl for a bit, then add the cilantro.

Mmm, pile of leaves.

Mmm, pile of leaves.

Blendy blendy blendy till you get the consistency you want, then pour into a bowl.

Mysterious chip! Where did that come from? Guess I better ... nom nom nom

Mysterious chip! Where did that come from? Guess I better ... nom nom nom

This salsa is like Tex-Mex ketchup, but infinitely more versatile. Mix it with some cream cheese and use it for a veggie dip. Melt some velveeta and mix in the salsa, and you’ve got chile con queso. Spread it on everything from eggs to grilled chicken. Use it in marinades for any kind of meat (oh wow, so good with fish). Or just eat the entire bowl with a bag of chips.

You know you want to.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Archives!

Pigeonholes

%d bloggers like this: