Salsa - It's A Dance And A Food!
What exactly is salsa? Technically, it can be just about anything; it's the Spanish word for "sauce." In this country, though, we think of it as a spicy, tomato-based concoction of mostly raw ingredients. It can be mild or hot, chunky or smooth, tart or fruity. It can contain just about anything from jalapeños to oranges, and it doesn't even have to have tomatoes.
There's nothing like a fresh, do-it-yourself salsa assembled from whatever looks good at the market. But there are lots of things you could spend your afternoon doing other than chopping tomatoes, scallions, garlic, and cilantro. Scrubbing the bathtub and washing the windows spring to mind. Homemade salsa is a chore. Fortunately, there's the kind in the jar. And while some of them are terrible - flat and lifeless, with weird chemical flavors - others are excellent.
When you think salsa you probably think chips. Salsa is a healthful, low-calorie substitution for creamy dips. But salsa isn't just for for skinny dipping - Salsa is an ingredient in its own right.
There's only one way to sort through the many styles, versions, and brands of salsa at your local market: Try them. The good news is that there are so many, you're bound to find one (or two or three or seven) that you like.
- Use salsa as a topping for baked potatoes, either mixed with sour cream or replacing it.
- Top an omelet or frittata with chunky-style salsa.
- Mix a chunky salsa with chopped orange, and serve with grilled salmon or pork.
- Try huevos rancheros for breakfast (or lunch) - scrambled eggs, cheese, and salsa wrapped in a tortilla.
- For the easiest guacamole, mash ripe avocados with spicy salsa.
- Serve salsa (choose one of the smoother varieties) instead of cocktail sauce with shrimp or crab cocktail.
- For a Mexican take on bruschetta, toast slices of French bread, rub with garlic, and top with mild salsa .
- To thicken and flavor soup, add salsa - it works with lentil, minestrone, bean, or any vegetable-heavy soup.
- Sauté mustard greens or chard with salsa, and mix with rice and beans.
You can pass off most bottled salsas as homemade if you add a few chopped tomatoes and scallions, but let that be our little secret.
Cranberry Walnut Salsa
1 cup walnuts, shelled
2/3 cup apple jelly
3 cups cranberries, fresh
1 large Granny Smith apple
1 8 ounces package chopped dates
1/4 cup apple juice
1. In a food processor with the knife blade attached, chop walnuts (or chop with a knife). Set walnuts aside.
2. In a large bowl, with wire whisk or fork, stir apple jelly until smooth. In food processor with knife blade attached, chop cranberries, pulsing on and off several times, until cranberries are smaller than peas (or chop with knife). Add cranberries to jelly.
3. Cut apple into quarters; core but do not peel. Chop apple in food processor until the same size as cranberries (or chop with knife).
4. Into a bowl with the cranberry mixture, stir apple, walnuts, dates, and apple juice. Makes about 3 1/2 cups.