Whatever your preference, there’s no denying that salsa is hot. Since May is National Salsa Month, now’s the perfect opportunity to spice things up, homemade style. Before you get your chopping knife out, here’s a little Salsa 101.
- First, raw salsa is also known as “salsa cruda,” or pico de gallo. Leave your ingredients raw for a salsa with a bright, refreshing taste. If you cook the salsa, you’ll trade a bright, fresh taste for a deeper, sweeter one. Roasting the tomatoes, garlic and/or chiles (peppers) lends rich, smoky flavors.
- The beauty of salsa is its versatility and adaptability. At its most basic, salsa is simply chopped or pureed tomatoes, chiles, onions and cilantro, flavored with salt and a squeeze of fresh limes. But feel free to experiment with combinations of fruits, vegetables, chiles and herbs.
- The herb in most salsas is cilantro, but why not mix it up? Parsley, mint, basil and oregano all add flavor when mixed with fresh vegetables and fruits.
- In the chile department, you are only as limited as the selection available at your local grocery store or farmers’ market. Try different peppers to experiment with flavors and intensity of heat.
- Set the tomatoes aside and use some other fruit or vegetable instead, like mangoes, melons, peaches, pineapple or tomatillos. Fruit salsas pair nicely with cinnamon tortilla chips.
- For flavor, color and texture, add bell peppers, jicama, radishes, fresh corn kernels, avocado and black beans.
Quick tip—a food processor or blender works well for the herbs and garlic. Blend those ingredients before you add the tomatoes to give your salsa a chunkier texture. Need a recipe to start with? Try this.