Thursday, April 9, 2009

Cinco De Mayo, el primer curso. SALSA!

If there is a better appetizer/snack food than salsa, I am not sure what it is. As a matter of fact, I have become known for showing up to pretty much any gathering to which I am invited with at least one kind of salsa in hand. It is kind of my thing. I also never prepare a tex-mex meal without at least one or two salsas on the table.

I am not so adamant about avoiding jarred salsas, as I am about jarred pasta sauce. There are actually some really tasty pre-packaged salsas out there. This is where my "Do it your F-ing self" nature is going to kick in though. Even though there are some tasty salsa options on the shelf at the grocery store, why would I want to pay 5 or more dollars for a jar, when I can make something just as good in my own kitchen? I have included 3 of my favorite salsa recipes(black bean salsa, roasted poblano salsa and guacamole) here, to get your Cinco De Mayo feast started right.

Black Bean Salsa

1 - 15.5oz can balck beans
1 - ear corn off the cob, sweet white corn is my favorite (or 3/4 cups frozen corn, thawed not cooked)
2 - plum tomatoes peeled, seeded and diced (check the Nona's 10 Hour Marinara recipe for peeling/seeding instructions)
1/2 - med onion minced
4 - cloves garlic minced
1 - jalapeƱo minced (more or less to taste)
1 - lime juiced
1 tsp - ground oregano
2 tsp - ground cumin
salt to taste (about 2 tsp)

1 - mixing bowl
1 - pan boiling water
1 - bowl ice water
Knife, cutting board, etc...


  • Mix all ingredients together and then refrigerate for at least an hour. Make it a day ahead of time if you can. It tastes much better after sitting overnight.

Roasted Tomato Poblano Salsa

4 - large tomatoes
2 - poblano chiles (if you have a very low spice tollerance, you can use less but after roasting these wont be very spicy.)
1/2 - med onion minced
4 - cloves garlic minced
1 - lime juiced
1 tsp - powdered oregano
2 tsp - powdered cumin
salt to taste (about 2 tsp)

1 - mixing bowl
1 - barbecue grill
1 - bowl ice water
1 - container with tight lid
knife, chopping board, etc...

  • Start the grill up while you are chopping the veggies, and when it is good and hot, arrange all the peppers and tomatoes over the hottest part and leave them uncovered.
  • Turn them every 5 or so minutes until they are blackened all the way around.
  • Once the skins are all charred and blackened, put the peppers in a tupperwear or soup pot with a tight lid, and leave them covered for 5 - 10 minutes.
  • After you take them out, you should be able to easily scrape the skins off.
  • The tomatoes get transfered to an ice water bath for about 30 seconds during which I use my hands to brush off as much of the char as I can without destroying them too much.
  • After being skinned, the peppers and tomatoes both get chopped up and added to a large mixing bowl.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
  • Refrigerate for at least a half hour before eating, overnight is better.


3 - haas avecados diced
1 - plum tomato
1/2 - med onion
4 - cloves garlic minced
2 - limes juiced (I like mine limey, you might want to start with just 1 and add more to taste.)
2 tsp - salt
1/2 tsp - powdered oregano
1 tsp - powdered cumin

1 - mixing bowl
1 - cheese grater
knife, cutting board, etc...

  • Start by juicing the lime into a salad bowl.
  • Use a cheese grater to grate the tomato and onion into pulp and add to the lime juice.
  • Mix in the salt, garlic and spices
  • Once the other ingrediants are all mixed together, prepare the avecados. (Make sure to wait, because you want to add them to the lime juice mixture as soon as they are cut. This will keep them from browning.)
  • Dicing an avecado:
  • slice into one side of the avecado until the knife hits the pit.
  • Holding the knife still, rotate the avecado slowly, letting the knife cut it in half around the pit.
  • Once it has been sliced, hold the two sides and twist them apart, like opening a jar. The avecado should come into two pieces, with the pit stuck in one side.
  • Place the side with the pit on your cutting board, pit up, and chop into the pit with your knife.
  • The blade should get stuck. You can now use it as a handle to twist out the pit.
  • Leaving the avecado in the shell, make slices about 1/4 inch apart, all the way across the flesh, penetrating down until the tip of the knife touches the inside of the shell but doesn't cut through it, then switch and do the same thing, perpendicular to the first lines.
  • Once you have diced the flesh, use a spoon to scoop it out into the lime mixutre.
  • You can mash it all together if that makes you feel better, but I think it is way better to just stir it together well (which will do some mashing) and leave the chunks how they are.
  • Unlike the salsas, guacamole should be used right after you make it.
  • If you need to prepare it ahead of time, make sure to store it in a zip lock bag with all of the extra air squeezed out. It also helps to save the pits, and put them in the guacamole. Beleive it or not the pits actually do help slow the browning.

You will note that none of these recipes have any cilantro in them, even though it would be in all of these dishes traditionally. There is a simple explanation for that. I hate cilantro. If you are a fan of that wretched herb, feel free to chop up 3 or 4 sprigs and mix it in to any of the above. I am sure you will enjoy it. I, however, will pass. Thank you.


  1. Here's that Guacamole song I was singing.

  2. Awesome, I will sing it the next time I make guac.