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From the Kitchens of Pancho Villa has been awarded the honor of "WINNER" in the "Cookbooks: International" category of the 2014 International Book Awards!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Fresh Salsa

There are two recipes for the same salsa..... one may be easier for you to follow than the other, so here they are:  

Numero Uno:
The ingredient list is this: tomatoes, white onion, chiles, cilantro, fresh lime. That's it, nothing secret about that so far.

Quantities are a variable also.
  • Start with 6 ripe tomatoes. Cut them in half lengthwise, remove and discard the seeds and their liquid. Now dice the tomatoes into about 1/4” dice and place them in a pretty bowl. I like to use a clear bowl because the finished salsa is very colorful.
  • About ¼ of a medium size white onion. Although white is the onion of choice here, if you like milder onions, use what you like, purple, Walla Walla, Vidalia.
  • Chiles (chili is a Gringo spelling) are either jalapeño or serrano. The choice is yours to make. Jalapeños are larger and much milder than serranos but their seeds are bigger and more crunchy. I love the flavor of jalapeños but do not like chewing on the seeds. Serranos are smaller and hotter but their seeds are small and soft. Decide on which chile you want to use. Remove the seeds or don't remove the seeds, remember seeds add heat. If you are not too sure about the amount of spicy heat you want, remove the seeds and white membrane then dice the chiles very tiny. You are using gloves to handle those chiles, right? Start with one chile and add more to your liking. Remember you can always add more but removing them is much more difficult.
  • Cilantro is one of the most fragrant and versatile herbs I can think of. If you are cilantro challenged, then use flat leaf parsley or another fresh herb – this IS your salsa! Use only the leaves and roughly chop them. The amount you use can be from a couple of tablespoons to an entire bunch. I use the entire bunch – it is just the leaves and not the stems so it really isn't that much.
  • One fresh lime, juiced. Don't even think of using that bottled stuff. YUK! I know what the bottle says but it is like using a chemical cocktail on your wonderful fresh veggies.
Once you have everything chopped and put into the bowl, stir it around and give it a taste. Now is the time to add more of this or that. The salsa will not need refrigeration unless you won't be eating it for several hours.

I have heard of some people adding garlic, but frankly I don't like eating raw garlic. If you have other ingredients you want to include, there are no barriers to your imagination. Go for it!

Remember that with any salsa you make, whether it be tomato or fruit, fresh or cooked, the recipes are only a guideline, not a rule. As you put together a salsa, taste it often to judge for yourself what other ingredients you may want to include. Consider salsa a blank canvas and you are a freelance painter. If you experiment and not quite sure you will like the final result, only make a small amount. Personally, I do no think you could make a mistake but heck, that's me and I would eat dirt if it had a good salsa on top! I have given you a starting point if you have never made salsa before. Salsas should be easy to make and always taste fresh. So please give it a try, I think you will be happy with your results!

One cast-in-stone rule of FRESH (not-cooked) salsas: NEVER add salt. 

Numero Dos:

Page 21 From the Kitchens of Pancho Villa (excerpt only)

The recipe is made with either serrano chiles or jalapeños, depending on whose kitchen you are in. Serrano chiles are more prevalent in some kitchens, while jalapeños are more prevalent in others. Both are wonderfully fresh tasting. The ratio of chiles and tomatoes are a personal preference, even in Mexican kitchens.

I find jalapeños very mild but also very flavorful, so I do like to use them in my salsa. My ratio of 1 chile to 1 tomato may be too hot and spicy for you. Feel free to adjust the quantity. I do, however, remove some of the seeds because I just don’t like chomping down on so many seeds in my salsa. I am going for good flavor and texture. If you do use serranos, it is not necessary to remove all the seeds, as they are quite tender.


6 ripe roma tomatoes, seeds removed
6 jalapeños or serranos (use your own discretion on the quantity)
½ small white onion
½ cup cilantro - measured before chopping
2 limes

Chop the tomatoes into a medium-sized dice. Remove the seeds as you go; they add no flavor, just moisture.

Okay, go get your gloves on! Remove the stem end from the jalapeños, stand the chile on the flat end, and carefully slice down the chile between the flesh and the seeds. This is actually the easiest method to remove those pesky seeds. When you have finished this step, dice them into very tiny squares. If you are using serranos, you can de-seed them the same way or just dice them up with the seeds.

Chop the onion into a small dice. Chop the cilantro leaves roughly.

Combine all the tomatoes, onion, cilantro, and as much of the chiles as you want. Then squeeze the juice from the 2 limes over the salsa and gently stir to combine.

Under no circumstances should you add salt! Salt draws out the water, and you will end up with your salsa swimming in a pool of watery tomato juice.

NOTE: Increase the recipe for the size party you are having. Double the tomatoes and cilantro. Only increase the amount of onion by about ¼ and add lime juice to taste. It should taste a bit 'limey' but not overpower the other flavors. Stir it well and give it a taste. You can always add more if needed.

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