Salsa! Like any good condiment — ketchup, mustard, soy sauce, sriracha, horseradish, kimchi, hot sauce, chutney, etc… — we’ve all got a jarred version in the cupboard that we turn to when needed to cover up a dish that would otherwise be a mistake. But a good condiment shouldn’t just enhance our food, it should also be good enough to stand alone.
Salsa, of course, just means sauce, and can come in many varieties. At their best, they’re straight-forward to make, but their beauty is in the abundance of fresh local ingredients available this time of year. Here are my four favorite recipes using the season’s great tomatoes, tomatillos, avocados, corn and more…
This is a nice fresh salsa that I use a lot with fish tacos or a crispy queso fresco flauta. All you need is one each of green, yellow and red bell peppers, a small onion, 1 tomato (Early Girl and Brandywines are my favorites), 1 lime and a tbsp of vinegar. Chop everything. Mix. Salt to taste. Done.
Roasted Tomato and Chipotle Salsa
You’ll notice a trend here, but the key is fresh simple ingredients. For this salsa you’ll need 2 tomatoes, 2 red peppers, 1 or 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (I have to admit this may be cheating, but I have never tried to make my own adobo…though now I feel like an attempt needs to be made soon). In addition to the smoky chipotles, what really ups the flavor in this sauce is the roasting of the tomato and pepper. I typically roast them right on a hot grill or over our gas stove, but you can also put them under the broiler until the skin begins to char. Then pop them in a paper bag or tupperware to steam for a little and it will help when you have to peel off the blackened skin. Toss everything in a food processor and pulse to a puree. The key to this salsa is the next step — heat this mixture low and slow until it reduces by half. It turns into a slightly chunky, spicy and smoky sauce. It may even be the reason tomatoes were put on this earth. As well as using this on tacos and huevos rancheros, I also treat it like ketchup — burgers, fries, you name it, it works
Tomatillo and Capers Salsa Verde
The base of salsa verde is tomatillos, the green, tomato-like fruits with the paper-y husks you see in the produce section. Take the following ingredients: 5 tomatillos, 1 jalapeno, a small onion, tsp of capers and a few springs of cilantro. Rough chop it all and then pulse in a food processor. On flautas, tacos, homemade tortilla chips, it all work well.
Avocado Corn Salsa
Guacamole is a great condiment and deserves its own post, but this recipe is the best of both worlds. Again, gansie’s recent post about avocado smuggling had them on my mind so I wanted to try a mash-up of guac and salsa. I turned to Rick Bayless, my guru for authentic yet modernized Hispanic cooking. I used his recipe as a foundation but added some of the leftover grilled corn I had on hand as well.
You need: 1 medium avocado (diced), 3/4 c corn, 1/2 cup quartered grape tomatoes, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro, 2 teaspoons fresh-squeezed lime juice. Mix, salt, chill, enjoy! Use this however you want. It doesn’t even need to be a condiment — just grab a spoon and dig in.
Have a better fresh salsa recipe? Feed us back in the comments!