The creation of this salsa was a bit of a revelation. And like many of my “lightning in a bottle” kitchen experiences, it was the result of a making do with what I had on the fly.
We were serving a chicken fajita dinner, and as I started to put things together I realized I had no salsa. I did, however, have a jalapeno pepper, garlic, some cilantro, a lime and a can of crushed San Marzano tomatoes. The tomatoes were key; this variety and quality are head and shoulders above other types, and in something like salsa, where the tomato is raw, front and center, the splurge is warranted.
I chucked this together, and the result was quite stunning. I have since recreated it to use over enchiladas and, knowing what I know now, I may never buy jarred salsa again.
Sneakiest Superior Salsa
Makes about 1 cup
This can be scaled up as needed and adjusted according to taste — if you are a fan of heat, add more jalapeno and include the seeds. If not, back it off, or omit it. The result will be just a fresh, tasty salsa roja, but what’s wrong with that?
1 clove garlic
1 inch piece of a jalapeno pepper, or your favorite chili pepper variety
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 cup crushed San Marzano tomatoes
Crush or puree the garlic and jalapeno — this can be done by hand using the side of the knife and mashing the two things together after very finely chopping the pepper or, my preferred method, in the blender or mini-chopper.
For more heat, include the seeds; for milder salsa, discard them. Add the remaining ingredients. Stir, taste and allow it to sit for a bit, or serve it right away.