There are two basic types of tomato-based salsas – salsa made with fresh tomatoes and salsa made with cooked tomatoes. When cooking salsa, as we do when we make enchiladas, we always use the cooked-tomato version, not the fresh. This particular salsa is popular in the north, or Sonoran part of Mexico, because of its use of Anaheim green chiles.
Starting at age seven it was my job to make salsa for our family, which I did at least once a week for ten years. This is the recipe we used, the only difference between now and the mid-60s is that now you can get some very good canned “fire-roasted” tomatoes, perfect for salsa making. Why used canned tomatoes? If you live where we do, and in most places in the U.S., you can only get great fresh tomatoes maybe 2 months out of the year. If you do have access to good tomatoes and want to make the effort to roast them yourself, go for it – put several tomatoes under a broiler until the skin is blistered all over, remove from the oven, let cool, remove the skin. You can do the same with the anaheim chiles. Yet, the beauty of this recipe is that it is something a 7-year old can make in about 10 minutes – pretty useful when you are trying to get dinner on the table. And speaking of dinner, the way we usually serve our salsa? with steak and refried beans.
Simple Salsa Recipe
- 1 28-oz can whole tomatoes, preferably fire-roasted (Muir Glen makes an excellent product.)
- 1 7-oz can green chiles, chopped (or one large 6 inch or two smaller anaheim chiles, roasted under a broiler or directly on a gas stove burner so that the outer skin has completely blackened. Put into a brown paper bag for a few minutes after roasting to loosen the blackened skin. Remove and discard the blackened skin. Remove the stem, seeds, and ribs. Chop.)
- 1 clove of garlic, or 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
- 2 green onions (scallions), chopped, including the green parts (about 1/3 cup)
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano (can supplement with fresh)
- 1/4 cup of very loosely packed fresh chopped cilantro
- Freshly ground black pepper
1 Remove just the tomatoes from the can of whole tomatoes, place in a medium sized non-reactive mixing bowl. Using your fingers, or a fork and a sharp small knife, shred or break up the tomatoes.
2 Mix in chopped green chiles, green onions, garlic (or garlic salt), olive oil and vinegar. Add back in about 1/4 cup of the tomato sauce from the can of whole tomatoes. Sprinkle on about 1/4 teaspoon of dried oregano. Mix in and taste. Adjust if needed. Add cilantro, and salt and pepper to taste.
Refrigerate when not using. Will keep several days.