Saturdays are very busy days for us. My husband has Bible Study Fellowship leaders’ meeting very early on Saturday mornings, and the rest of the day is usually spent doing errands and household chores that we can’t manage to get to during the week. We have no set meal times on weekends, and we typically have a fend-for-yourself policy at breakfast and lunch, meaning that we eat whatever is quick and easy, such as bagels, yogurt, sandwiches, or leftovers. By supper time I’m usually very tired, and not especially ambitious about cooking, so for years my Saturday supper standby was quick and easy spaghetti. However, since we’ve reduced our pasta consumption to only once or twice a month, our new Saturday supper has become taco salads for my husband and me, and build-your-own nachos for the kids.
Basically, I put out bowls of tortilla chips, taco meat (a great use for previously cooked and frozen ground beef – it goes from freezer to plate in about 10 minutes), cheese, lettuce, black beans or sweet corn, sour cream, and salsa, and the kids pile whatever they want on their plates.
Because I’m not a canner of produce, I used to buy jarred salsa for taco night, but I never found a brand that we really loved. Most jarred salsas are pretty blah and mushy, and they usually have too many big chunks of tomato, which I hate! I use and like tomato products – sauce, paste, crushed tomatoes, ketchup, – a lot but I don’t like fresh tomatoes (I especially hate the smell and texture….ew!) One taco night I had no salsa on hand, so I decided to try making my own, and it was so simple and delicious that I wrote down what I’d done so I could duplicate the recipe in the future. Mine is a mildly spicy, kid-friendly salsa with lots of fresh flavor, and the key ingredient is….cilantro. I always try to have fresh cilantro on hand because it’s one of my favorite herbs. It’s inexpensive – I buy big bunches for 99 cents – and I use it not only in salsa, but also in veggie omelets, wraps, and our favorite tuna and chickpea salad. It’s just so good, and this summer I’m going to plant a lot of it so that I never run out. That’s how much I love it.
I think my homemade salsa is just as good, if not better than any salsa I’ve ever had in a Mexican restaurant. Cakes, who loves spicy food, is a big fan. If I’m making salsa she’s right there waiting for it to be done, and she can never wait until dinner to have some.
Quick and Easy Homemade Restaurant Style Salsa
(1) 10-ounce can mild, original Rotel tomatoes (do not drain)
(1) 15-ounce can petite diced tomatoes (do not drain)
1/4 of a small onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
A generous handful of fresh cilantro (at least a half cup. I like even more than that)
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Pulse all ingredients in a food processor 5 or 6 times, or until the chunkiness is as you prefer. Adjust salt and sugar to taste. This recipe can be completely customized. Add more onion and garlic if you prefer, and if you like more kick substitute hot Rotel tomatoes for the mild, or add some dashes of hot sauce. Endless possibilities.
Recipe makes approximately 2 1/2 cups of salsa for less than $2.00. Enjoy!