Can we have a moment of silence for all of the snack aisle salsas that’ll get tossed from the refrigerator shelves to the trash bins right after people have a taste of these aptly named, homemade, Must-Make Salsas?
Okay, that’s enough. Now it’s time to tell you about the Pico de Gallo, Spicy Salsa Verde, Chipotle-Tomato Salsa, and Peach-Habanero Salsa that I had to refrain from literally pouring into my mouth this weekend. It was hard to resist, but I had friends to feed, so I sacrificed for the greater good. Now that’s what I call hospitality.
To the friends who spent more time in front of the salsa bar than the margarita bar on Saturday: this post is for you. Get your blenders and food processors ready.
To start, I want to talk about a salsa that makes me shrug as I shovel it onto chips and burritos: Pico de Gallo. By all means, I should despise this stuff since I am not a big fan of tomatoes in general, and certainly not of most things that you could describe as “chunky”. But with Pico? With Pico, logic is irrelevant. In fact, I like my Pico de Gallo to have some really bulky bits, so I tend to roughly chop the ingredients and switch out the typical small-diced Roma tomato for barely-sliced-up cherry or grape tomatoes instead. Go big or go home, as they say.
I include Pico de Gallo in my spread of salsas because it is very mild for those who can’t handle (or just need a brief break from) the heat of my spicier salsas, and it also adds some textural interest to soft tortilla-wrapped recipes like tacos and burritos.
Pico de Gallo less about a boatload of spices and tons of tiny minced peppers than it is about crunch and freshness and brightness, which is exactly what makes it so wonderful in my opinion. I think you’ll feel the same way.
- 3 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, cut into large chunks
- 1 small red onion, roughly chopped
- 2 jalapeno peppers, stems and seeds removed, finely chopped
- ½ cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Juice of one lime
- Combine all of the ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Toss until evenly distributed.
- Refrigerate until ready to eat.
But not everyone is into those huge hunks of tomato and onion, and I totally understand, so I throw together a well-blended red salsa as well. This Chipotle-Tomato Salsa is just a bit spicier than the Pico de Gallo, and it’s got some really delicious layers of flavor. From the name, you already know that there are chipotle peppers in the mixture that lend a great, smoky quality to the salsa, but I also use just a bit of balsamic vinegar for some sweet acidity and I sneak in some soy sauce for more umami complexity to the uncooked salsa. I know that sounds crazy, but trust me on this one.
This is one of the recipes I got asked for again and again this past weekend. It doesn’t taste like anything you can get from the grocery store– it’s roughly 10 billion times better. What’s best, though, is that there’s no cooking necessary, just throw the ingredients in the blender (and you can even use canned tomatoes) and you’ve got something that’s so much tastier than your typical Tostitos-brand salsa.
- 1 (28 ounce) can whole tomatoes, with juice
- 1 (10 ounce) can Rotel diced tomatoes with green chiles
- 1 small red onion, rougly chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 chipotles from 1 can chipotles in adobo, plus 2 tablespoons adobo sauce
- 2 jalapeno peppers, stemmed, seeded, and minced
- ½ cup cilantro, roughly chopped
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons lime juice
- ¼ teaspoon cumin
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Process all of the ingredients in a food processor or blender until well combined and just a few chunks remain. Season with salt, to taste.
- Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Say you do want to serve a cooked salsa, though. Well, then this Spicy Salsa Verde is for you! The tomatillos (green, husked Mexican tomatoes), jalapenos, poblano, and garlic are roasted until blackened and then blended with red onion, cilantro, lime juice, and salt. It winds up being spicy, sweet, tangy, and irresistible. I know I was dippin’ chips in this salsa all day like it was going out of style.
And even though I didn’t serve the Salsa Verde this way this time because I had some guac on the side, let me just mention that blending avocado in with the salsa ingredients makes for one crazy delicious, creamy version of Salsa Verde. Spoon that over tacos and watch everyone get weak in the knees.
- 12 tomatillos, husked and rinsed well to remove stickiness
- 2 jalapeno peppers
- 1 poblano pepper
- 4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
- ½ cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped, plus more to top
- ½ cup finely chopped onion
- Juice of 1 lime
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Preheat the broiler and place the tomatillos, peppers, and garlic cloves on a rimmed baking sheet.
- Transfer the baking sheet under the broiler and roast everything until soft and blackened in spots, about 5-8 minutes per side. Set aside until cool enough to handle.
- Once cooled, remove the stems and seeds from the chiles and the paper from the garlic cloves. Place everything into the food processor or blender, including the juices on the baking sheet, and blend until well combined. If the salsa is too thick, add up to ¼ cup of water and season with salt, to taste.
- Refrigerate until ready to serve and garnish with additional cilantro.
Finally we get to my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE SALSA IN THE KNOWN UNIVERSE, Peach-Habanero Salsa. If you’re thinking that this salsa will be too spicy for you, you might be surprised: I only use a couple of habanero peppers for heat that builds very slowly instead of kicking you in the face with capsaicin. It is by no means a fry your tastebuds kind of salsa, but if you want it to be, you can always add in an extra habanero or two.
I am pretty sure that every. single. person at the party who tried this salsa told me how much they loved it, even people who said that they typically didn’t like peaches or weren’t sure what was in it. I think I had 3 separate people tell me that it was the best mango salsa they ever had, or that they needed the mango salsa recipe… and hey, I’ll take it. We also have to give those people the benefit of the doubt– the margarita machine was REALLY busy that day, so they might not have had their wits about them.
If I had to recommend a single simple recipe to make for any party or barbecue, THIS WOULD BE IT. Yup, this salsa right here that doesn’t even require any cooking. Score one for the lazy people.
- 3½ cups peeled, pitted, and diced fresh peaches
- 1 small white onion, diced
- 1 orange bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2-3 habanero peppers, stemmed, seeded, and minced (use gloves!), plus one to garnish
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- Kosher salt, to taste
- In a food processor or blender, combine all of the ingredients. Process until all of the ingredients are evenly distributed. Season with salt to taste and pour into a medium-sized bowl. Garnish with a habanero and refrigerate until ready to serve.
When you try one of these delicious salsas (or maybe all of them!), don’t forget to take a picture before you start scoopin’ and tag #hostthetoast on Instagram or Twitter. Also, let me know which one is your favorite!
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