This is basically a fresh tomato sauce with chopped vegetables, spices and
herbs. There are many variations of the same recipe, don't be too constrained
by the list I have here. Use whatever is cheap or in season. If it looks right
and tastes good, it's your recipe now!
Adapted from the Mexican Cafe, Annapolis, MD, USA.
This excellent hole-in-the-wall cafe serves free salsa and nachos before your meal. They pour it out of big plastic jugs. It was so much better than the bland and rather slimy commercial salsa from a jar that you can buy, I thought "This must be cheap and easy to do." The waiter said that they made it fresh every day using a blender.
I have found that although you can make this in less than half an hour, it improves if you put it in the fridge for a couple of hours. It is not cooked, so it should be eaten the same day, or if you have any left over, use it the next day to make a cooked tomato-based sauce or soup. It makes great pasta sauce when cooked.
- Great low calorie snack especially when eaten with crudités (raw celery, carrot slices etc.) and not deep fried chips/crisps!
- No fat. Lots of vitamins and minerals. High in vegetable compounds that are alleged to be healthy.
- Sodium: if you have low-sodium diet restrictions, leave out or reduce the salt/MSG. MSG is/was a naturally occurring seaweed-derived ingredient from the Far East. I think any health concerns about it are somewhat debunked (apart from it having a lot of sodium).
- If people find that raw tomatoes/vegetables upset their stomach, tell 'em to get tested for H. Pylori infection. Helicobacter Pylori Foundation.
- Tomatoes. Can of crushed tomatoes.
- Vegetables. Onion, green pepper, cucumber.
- Hot sauce.
- Herbs and spices, including garlic.
- An acid flavouring, like lime juice, lemon juice, or vinegar.
Put in a large bowl: 1 x 790 ml/28 fl oz can of
crushed tomatoes (or if you can get them 1 kg/2lb fresh tomatoes, or
canned whole tomatoes) The whole tomatoes should be crushed/chopped/blended into a pulp.
For fresh or canned whole tomatoes you will have to drain some liquid off. Keep it for your soup later. Don't worry about skins or seeds.
Stir in: about 500 g/1 lb of assorted finely chopped vegetables (chop them to about 1/4 inch/5mm size or use a blender), for example:
- 1 large onion
- 1 large green or red pimento (sweet) pepper
- 1/2 large cucumber (or zucchini/courgette)
- Variations: a grated carrot, stick of celery, hot peppers, any other crispy vegetables that are eaten raw.
Add flavouring to taste:
This is the artistic bit. You have to keep stirring in this stuff and then taste it, classic feedback mechanism! If there's anything here you don't like, can't eat or don't have, don't worry!
Lime juice, lemon juice or vinegar (about 2 tbsp/30 ml). If the vinegar is strong add less.
Garlic (I use about 5 cloves, finely crushed/chopped)
Salt (about half tsp/5 ml)
MSG (about hallf tsp/5ml)
Hot sauce (about 2 tbsp/30 ml, but start with half of that)
- Either hot chilli sauce (Vietnamese or Chinese food stores/shops will usually have this - bright red in squeeze bottles, Sriracha, for example).
- Or something like Tabasco sauce (not as good in my opinion)
- Chilli powder (half tsp/5ml) and/or chilli flakes
- Paprika (half tsp/5ml)
- Cumin (half tsp/5ml)
Coriander (half tsp/5ml)
- Ginger (half tsp/5ml) either finely chopped fresh or ground
- Black/pink/white peppers (ground half tsp/5ml)
- Fenugreek (pinch)
- Basil (pinch)
- Chives (pinch)
- Parsley (pinch)
- Green/spring onions (handful)