The Sauce: Restaurant-style Salsa – Clean, bright, spicy but mild salsa with fresh cilantro and seasonings combined with tomatoes.
‘Great Sauces Transform Good Food into Gourmet’
Hunt for red salsa
One of my favorite reasons to eat out at a good Mexican restaurant is the chips and salsa served once you’re seated. It’s bright, tomato-ey, spicy and has the crunch factor with the warm tortilla chips. I love nibbling on chips and salsa over good conversation.
A few months ago we went to the Banana Cafe in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, DC. It’s a block from Eastern Market Metro on the corner of E Street SE and 8th Street SE. Painted bright yellow, you can’t miss it. About once a quarter I find my way to Capital Hill to shop or take a class at Hill’s Kitchen. I always stop at Eastern Market for a few fresh groceries at their meat or fish counters. If it’s the weekend, there’s a huge flea market with over 100 booths filled with wares to wind through on the plaza.
Back to the Banana Cafe; their salsa is fabulous. To develop recipes, I have a tendency to taste it over and over again, listing the probable ingredients in my little book. I don’t hesitate to ask the wait staff what’s in it. Sometimes they even tell me! Along with my notes from other restaurants around the country including Texas, California, New Mexico and a bunch of other locales, I’ve developed a bright, tomato-ey, spicy but mild homemade version.
Now you can have salsa and chips right at home. This recipe is made in a food processor so it’s fast and easy. Except for some fresh cilantro, all the ingredients can be kept in your fridge and pantry. Just think, you’re only five minutes away from restaurant quality salsa. Bonus deal, it’s healthier than a sour cream based dip so enjoy. Olé!
You might also enjoy Baja Pico de Gallo, Lime and Tomato Tajicos, Taco Salad with Creamy Tomatillo Sauce, Mexican Hat Black Bean Soup, Roasted Tomato Bisque, Gazpacho, Taco Salad Kit and Heirlooms with Eggs.
Recipe: Cantina Salsa
Prep Time: 5 Minutes | Cook Time: 0 Minutes | Yield: 3 Cups | Level: Easy
- 1 15-oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes, such as Hunt’s
- 1 10-oz can diced tomatoes with green chiles, such as Rotel
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
- 1/4 cup diced onion
- 1 clove garlic, micro grated
- 1 Tbsp lime juice
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp sugar
Special Equipment – food processor or blender
2 Serve with crisp tortilla chips.
For medium to hot salsa, add 1/2 to a whole jalapeño finely minced before processing.
Fresh tomatoes are an interesting vegetable. Technically a fruit, they taste delicious during the harvest season, packed with flavor. Tomatoes are available all year round, either shipped long distances, ripening in route or grown in local hot houses. I recommend using fresh tomatoes in your local season. Use canned tomatoes for dishes when out of season. These tomatoes are canned at their peak of freshness during harvest season and contain important aromatics only field grown, vine-ripened tomatoes have. They have much more flavor than most fresh tomatoes in the produce department during off season.
This salsa makes up so fast that it works well with any south of the border menu.
Spoon on tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas, burritos, chimichangas, fajitas or chili rellenos.
- Exchange fire roasted for regular diced tomatoes.
- Exchange diced for whole tomatoes.
- Exchange fresh garlic for 1/4 tsp powdered garlic.
- Exchange cilantro for parsley.
Inspiration – Saucy Cuisine Kitchen
Cook with Sauces
Written by Helen Horton
Photographs by Helen Horton
Updated: April 1, 2013