One of the keys to eating healthier is to have things that add flavor to your healthy food. Salsa is a staple for this. Whether you use hot salsa or more mild salsa, it is a great way to add flavor to beans or brown rice or steamed vegetables.
While salsa is super simple, there are at least seven different ways to prepare it. Each of these ways changes the taste and composition somewhat, and it is great to modify your preparation sometimes so that you do not get tired of always having the same thing.
What Goes Into Salsa?
But first, what goes into homemade salsa?
- Peppers (Jalapeno is most common)
- Tomato (Red or Green Tomatillos)
- Cilantro (Unless you dislike it)
- Salt, Lime Juice and Garlic
Truly it is that simple, although you can experiment with different added seasonings, different peppers, etc.
Variations may also include corn, vinegar,
Some Salsa Pro Tips
- If you like the salsa less hot, remove seeds and use larger jalapenos
- More Tomato also will reduce spiciness as well.
- Some preparations (below) use water which will dilute the salsa more, making it milder.
- If you like a sweet and spicy variation, honey or agave added to some of the salsa options can make for a nice combination.
In addition to the seven cooking preparation styles below, you can also choose to blend the salsa, smash the salsa with a potato masher so it still has some chunks, or leave it chunky by dicing the ingredients before cooking and then not smashing or blending them after.
Boiled Salsa Preparation
A very common way to prepare salsa is to boil all the ingredients other than the cilantro and some added diced onion. Boiling goes until everything is soft. Usually 10+ minutes. Less water will make the salsa more strong.
Baked Salsa Preparation
When baking salsa in the oven, cover the ingredients and bake for 15+ minutes on medium heat, and then uncover and get a little chare on them for a bit longer at a higher heat. Typically this will have garlic, lime juice and cilantro added after baking.
Grilled or Fired Salsa Preparation
Especially in good weather, it is great to grill your salsa vegetables. Usually, I add a light coating of oil and then put everything on the grill until they are hissing and cracking open, but not overly charred. You can scrap some of the black off before blending.
Pickled Salsa Preparation
Pickled salsa is different in that you do not cook it. Instead, you cut all the ingredients up into small cubes and add a nice amount of fresh lime juice and salt on them. As they sit, this softens up and becomes the “pico de gallo” we all know and love.
Pan-Roasted Salsa Preparation
One easy way to roast the salsa vegetables is to pan roast them. With light oil, simply lay the onions, jalapenos, and tomatoes out and put a lid on the pan. With a medium heat brown them on all sides. Make sure to keep the juice in the pan and add it to the salsa as well.
Instapot Salsa Preparation
With an Instapot or another pressure cooker, you can put all the ingredients in and a small amount of water (the tomatoes will seep juice and add more liquid) and pressurize for a short while. Five to ten minutes will work. The longer you cook the more the chunks will be soft and broken down. Add the cilantro, lime juice and salt to taste at the end.
Rehydrate Salsa Preparation
This method of salsa preparation is similar to boiling, but you take dried peppers such as Chiles De Arbol and you clean them, and soften them back up by boiling them. This method usually includes adding vinegar as well and produces a richer, red salsa that is very spicy.
The beauty of salsa is there is nearly an endless opportunity to combine a few simple ingredients, cooking preparation and post-cooking preparation, which makes salsa with very similar ingredients turn out very differently. Enjoy experimenting and mixing things up. And leave a comment below on how you did some variety of these ideas to create your own delicious salsa.