September 15 – October 15 is Hispanic Heritage Month. It’s a time during which to celebrate the cultures, foods, languages, music and traditions that belong to the Hispanic peoples of this world. As co-chair of my company’s Hispanic Affinity Network, I’m happy to contribute to our celebrations and learning sessions. And this week was Salsa Week!
This Tuesday, we held a lunchtime salsa dancing lesson right at work! We had a local instructor come in, teach us the basic salsa and bachata steps, and and dance our lunch away. With salsa, guacamole, chips, horchata and jamaica of course! And Thursday was our annual salsa tasting competition. A total of eleven people brought in their own homemade salsa for the entirety of our office to sample, judge, and choose their favorites. Mine was one of these salsas.
I’ve never made salsa before. My mom always did the work, because we’d have tomatoes growing like crazy in the garden. And it always tasted amazing – she used a recipe from a family friend, and we called it “Mike’s Salsa.”
So when I learned about our salsa tasting competition, I went straight to her for the recipe. And attempted to make salsa for the first time of my life. It was labor-intensive, made a huge mess, took nearly two hours, and ended with me in tears multiple times from the raw onions and spicy peppers.
But I won. My salsa beat out the rest. And for that reason, I’m going to share with you the very recipe (and adjustments) that afforded me this victory.
If you have patience, or just a lot of tomatoes, give this a shot. It’s a good end-of-the-season recipe to use up all those garden fresh veggies. And you might win a contest, or at least the taste buds of your family and friends. This IS hot, so if you don’t like that, reduce the jalapeños by half.
Award Winning Hot Salsa, adapted from Mike’s Salsa recipe
Makes about 16 cups of salsa
- 20 medium size tomatoes
- 1.5 red onions, diced
- 6 jalapeños, seeds mostly removed
- 2 serrano peppers, seeds mostly removed
- 2 limes, juiced
- 1 full bunch of cilantro, washed, leaves removed and chopped
- salt, to taste
- 5 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp ground cumin
Fill the largest stock pot you have 2/3 with water. Cover and bring to a boil. Get out your food processor too.
Wash and pierce tomatoes. Once water is boiling, carefully add them in and let boil for about 10 minutes, until skins crack. You may need to do this several times, with so many tomatoes ahead of you.
Transfer crack-skinned tomatoes to an ice bath to cool. Once cooled, remove skins, cores and seeds. This is the messy part! Do this with all tomatoes, and either dice by hand, or use the food processor and a few pulses. Transfer to a big (metal or glass) mixing bowl.
Dice the onions and add to the mixing bowl.
Slice 4 jalapeños and one serrano in half, and use the food processor to dice them fine. Add to the mixing bowl.
Juice limes straight into the mixing bowl, and add a good bit of salt, a few spoonfuls of sugar, and the cumin.
Stir in the cilantro. Mix it all really well. Now taste it! Use a spoon or tortilla chip. If you want it spicier, use more of the peppers left behind. If it’s too spicy, add some more sugar and cilantro.
Once you adjust to your tastes, stir it again, and let it sit in the fridge. The taste develops marvelously overnight.
Serve with chips, let the heat hit you at the back of the throat, and feel alive! Ok, that’s how I justify the spice level in this salsa 🙂
P.S. if you think about it, salsa is basically a salad…it’s ALL vegetables! So go crazy, eat a lot. Just maybe not so many chips.