Southwestern Salsa Recipes

Desert Lil's Delicacies - A DUSA Food Feature

Long before salsa became a popular music form that emerged from the Hispanic community during the 1970s, salsa was the ubiquitous hot sauce served with Mexican foods throughout Mexico and the desert southwest.

The two principal varieties of salsas are red and green. Salsa Mexicana (red) is made primarily with tomatoes, chiles, garlic and onions. Salsa verde (green) substitutes tomatillos for the tomatoes. From here, the varieties of salsas are at least as numerous as the varieties of the chiles upon which they are based.



Salsas are also fashioned both fresh (cruda or fresca) and cooked (cocina). Fresh salsas, made from ripe, raw ingredients, are used for dipping chips and garnishing tacos, burritos and a variety of other foods. These relish-like salsa crudas appear on the tables of Mexican and southwestern homes as commonly as salt and pepper.

Cooked salsas are often roughly pureed and can involve a number of other ingredients, including oil, broths, and regional flavorings to add sweetness, tartness, body, and depth. These cooked salsas are often ladled over eggs, enchiladas, roasted meats and seafoods, before, during or after cooking.

Although numerous varieties of salsas are now stocked in North American grocery markets, nothing can replace the fresh goodness of salsa made in your kitchen. While salsas are famous for imparting that unique experience to Mexican foods, they are delightful served with others foods as well. For instance, I prefer my breakfast fried potatoes topped with a fresh red salsa instead of catsup.

Here are some quick, easy and tasty favorites.


Fresh Salsas

Salsa Mexicana (Red)
Makes 2 cups

1 lb. ripe tomatoes
1 clove garlic
1 small onion
2 chiles jalapenos or 3 chiles serrano
1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
1 Tbsp water

Core tomato, and stem and seed chiles. Chop all ingredients finely or place in blender briefly until coarsely chopped. Salt to taste and chill 1/2 hour before serving.

Salsa Verde (Green)
Makes 2 cups

1/2 pound fresh tomatillos or 13 oz can, drained
1 clove garlic
1 small onion
2 chiles jalapenos or 3 chiles serrano
1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
1 Tbsp water
Salt

If fresh, roast tomatillos until soft; they can also be boiled for 10 minutes. Chop or blend as above till finely chopped. Salt to taste and chill 1/2 hour before serving.

Cilantro-Lime Salsa
Makes 2 cups

1 small onion
1/2 cupped chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup salad oil
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
6 Tbsp lime juice
1 chile jalapeno, stemmed, seeded, minced.
1 chile anaheim pepper, stemmed, seeded, minced
1 chile serrano pepper stemmed, seeded, minced.

Add all ingredients to blender and whirl until coarsely chopped. Chill 1 hour before serving.

Tropical Fruit Salsa
Makes 3 cups

1 peeled, ripe mango
1 cup diced pineapple
1 cup honeydew melon
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 juice of lime
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro
1 Tbsp fresh chopped mint

Finely dice bell pepper and fruit. Mix in a bowl with cilantro, mint and vinegar. Chill 1 hour before serving.


Cooked Salsas

Salsa Roja
Makes 2 cups

1 large ripe tomato
4 dried chiles guajillos chiles, stemmed, seeded, deveined
1 can chipotle chile in adobo sauce
2 cloves peeled garlic
1 medium onion, quartered
1/2 tsp salt

Heat large frying pan to high, then add garlic, onion, tomatoes, and guajillos. Turn often till charred on all sides (10 minutes). Remove and let cool. Break guajillos into blender and whirl on high until pulverized. Add remaining ingredients and puree until smooth.

Salsa Chipotle
Makes 2 cups

1/2 pound fresh or canned tomatillos
4 dried chiles guajillos, stemmed, seeded, deveined
1 can chipotle chile in adobo sauce
2 cloves peeled garlic
1 medium onion, quartered
1/2 tsp salt

Heat large frying pan to high, then add garlic, onion, tomatillos (if fresh), and guajillos. Turn often till charred on all sides (10 minutes). Remove and let cool. Break guajillos into blender and whirl on high until pulverized. Add remaining ingredients and puree until smooth.

Chile de Arbol Hot Sauce
Makes 1 1/2 cups

1 1/4 oz (50-60) dried chiles de arbol
1 1/2 Tbsp sesame seeds
2 Tbsp shelled pumpkin seeds
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp dried oregano
2 cloves garlic
3/4 cup cider vinegar
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup water

Stem and seed chiles. Roast sesame seeds in hot skillet till brown, then add pumpkin seeds until all are golden. Pulverize chiles in blender, then add remaining dry ingredients and pulverize as well. Add remaining ingredients and puree till smooth. Strain through medium-sized sieve, add water, and let stand overnight.

Complete Index of Desert Lil's Delicacies

 

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