Food Preparation: How To Make Your Own Salsa

Tips on how you can create your own homemade salsa.

If you're looking for a fresh, healthy accompaniment to your meals, why not try your hand at making homemade salsa? Salsa not only goes great with all types of Mexican food, but you can also use it as a topping for hamburgers, chicken and fish, put it on your eggs, use it as a dip for chips or fresh vegetables, or eat it as a delicious side to just about any meal.

There are several ways to make salsa. You can either cook the vegetables or make a salsa mixture of completely fresh ingredients. While tomato-based salsa is the most popular kind of salsa, you can also make a fruit-based salsa or a bean salsa.

Here are some tips to help you make the most delicious salsa this side of the border.

-- For a basic, uncooked, tomato salsa recipe: Combine 3 or 4 large tomatoes, (seeded and chopped) , ½ cup chopped red onion, ½ cup chopped green pepper, 3 or 4 cloves minced garlic, a dash of salt, a splash of lime juice, one tablespoon of chopped, fresh cilantro and 1 mild chili pepper, seeded and chopped.

Mix all ingredients together and chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.

-- To make a cooked tomato salsa: In a heavy sauce pan, combine 3 or 4 large tomatoes (peeled and seeded), ½ cup chopped green pepper, ½ cup chopped onion, 1 finely chopped and seeded jalapeno pepper, 3 or 4 cloves of minced garlic, 1/2 cup tomato puree, a dash of salt and a dash of sugar.

Bring ingredients to a boil. Simmer uncovered over low heat for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring often. Add 1 tablespoon of fresh cilantro and a splash of lemon or lime juice. Allow salsa to cool before serving.

-- To make a roasted tomato salsa: Use the uncooked tomato salsa recipe with the following exception: "Roast" the tomatoes, onions and peppers in the oven or in a skillet until lightly browned. Then add the remaining ingredients.

-- To make a bean salsa: Use the uncooked salsa recipe and add a can of drained, rinsed black beans or kidney beans. You can also add other vegetables such as canned corn or chopped avocado.

-- To make a fruit salsa: Combine 1 cup of chopped, fresh pineapple, ¼ cup chopped green pepper, ¼ cup chopped onion, a dash of sugar, a dash of salt, 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, 1 mild chili pepper, seeded and chopped. Mix all ingredients well and refrigerate until ready to use. Note: You can substitute chopped mango for the pineapple if you prefer.

Things to Remember:

-- Homemade salsa tastes best when used within a few days after making it.

-- Roma tomatoes are a good choice when making homemade salsa. Roma tomatoes are heartier than most other varieties.

-- Cilantro has a very distinctive taste. If you don't like the taste of cilantro, don't use it. You can substitute other spices for it (cumin can be used for a different flavor) or do without it. The fresh ingredients found in homemade salsa have so much, flavor on their own that a missing ingredient won't be noticeable.

-- To make a more colorful salsa, use a combination of red, green and yellow peppers. If you like spicy salsa, use extra spicy peppers like jalapeno, Serrano or Habanero.

-- Use your imagination when it comes to adding additional ingredients. Olives, citrus fruit; whatever you like. Combine ingredients your way to come up with your own signature salsa recipe.

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