One of my favorite things about having a garden is being able to make fresh salsa when tomatoes and peppers are in season. A reader asked me recently where my fresh, uncooked, salsa recipe was and I realized I’ve never posted this simple – yet super flavorful – recipe. Which, since I make it several times a week during August and September, is quite an oversight.
While fresh salsa is a simple recipe – if you’ve got tomatoes, peppers, and onions you’re basically good – there are many variances in flavor additions: garlic, lime, cilantro – or not. There are also texture differences and in our house I like to make two versions of fresh salsa, just like we are served at our favorite Mexican restaurants:
A classic, chunky pico de gallo full of diced tomatoes, peppers, onions and garlic. If I’m going to add other ingredients like corn, beans or sweet bell peppers as I did here, it will be to this pico de gallo version of fresh salsa.
And a restaurant-style salsa cruda where the same tomatoes, peppers, onions and garlic have been whirred in a food processor to a much smoother consistency. This salsa I usually keep ‘pure’ with only tomatoes, onions, and hot peppers – and spicy. In fact I always leave the seeds and the membranes of jalapeno peppers on because we like it hot!
I often make these both together because they use almost the same ingredients and it’s easy to do – half the lime for one, the other half for the next batch and so on.
Here’s where I probably should confess that I’m not a cilantro fan – I think it overtakes the other flavors in salsas most of the time. I usually use Italian parsley and I like the fresh flavor it adds that only enhances the other flavors. Like always, the choice is yours!
While I’ve made versions of these fresh salsas for years, dealing with the copious amounts of juice from ripe tomatoes has always been an issue, so I’ve recently added a draining step to the recipe that I adapted after reading about it in Cook’s Country. It’s not crucial, so you can choose to skip that step, but it does make using the salsas with finger foods like tacos much easier.
Oh, and our favorite way to eat these salsas is with 10 Minute Baked Tortilla Chips – yum!
- 3 lbs. tomatoes
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 small onion, halved
- 2-4 jalapenos, halved (remove seeds for milder salsa)
- 1 anaheim pepper, halved & seeded
- 1 lime, halved
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled
- ½ tsp. pepper
- ¼ c. chopped parsley or cilantro (for those fans out there...)
- optional: ¼ tsp. cumin (sometimes I do and sometimes I don't)
- optional diced vegetables for pico de gallo: beans, corn, sweet peppers
- For both salsas: core and quarter the tomatoes. Sprinkle tomatoes with salt and let sit in a strainer to drain while preparing the other vegetables.
- For Salsa Cruda:* add one half of the remaining ingredients to the bowl of a food processor (roughly chop the half onion first) and the juice of one half of the lime - pulse until ingredients are roughly chopped. Add half of the drained, quartered tomatoes to the processor and whir with ingredients until the desired consistency is reached; transfer to a serving bowl.
- For Pico de Gallo:* dice the remaining half of the ingredients and add to a serving bowl, along with the juice from the other half of the lime. Chop the remaining quartered, drained tomatoes and add to the pico de gallo ingredients and stir together well.
- Salt and pepper both salsas to taste and serve.