Tag Archives: salsa

Pineapple Salsa Fresca

Nine years ago today, I moved to New York. I was 22 years old, fresh out of college, and convinced that as soon as I got to my first Manhattan apartment, my life would really begin. I was starting film school, and my biggest dream was to be the first woman to win the Oscar for Best Director. Clearly, that did not happen (shout out to Kathryn Bigelow!), but a lot of other things did.

I’m pretty sure New York City is the only place in the world where people celebrate the anniversary of their moving date. It’s hard to live anywhere, but New York is a special case. The crowds, the noise, the cost of living, the constant need to compete professionally–nothing is easy here. In the last nine years, I have:

  • lived in eight apartments.
  • moved from Manhattan to Brooklyn. Then back to Manhattan. Then back to Brooklyn.
  • had twelve jobs in five different fields.
  • realized that I enjoy cooking far more than I ever enjoyed film production.
  • learned to bake in the tiniest kitchen ever.
  • abandoned my filmmaking dreams in the name of butter and sugar.
  • met some of the most incredible people on earth.
  • fallen in love. And fallen out of love.
  • had really high highs and horrifically low lows.
  • survived.

 The life I have is not what I envisioned nine years ago (or anything close to it), but today, I am living the life I want. I live in a beautiful apartment in a safe neighborhood with good people. I work as a personal chef for a very nice family. I have an unbelievable support system, without whom I’m not sure I would have accomplished anything. I have a lot of goodness, generosity, spontaneity, and love in my life. Every once in a while, I dream of moving somewhere else–Austin, Chicago, Maine–but then I realize that moving would mean leaving everything I’ve accomplished in New York, all the people I’ve met, and all of the opportunities I might have here in the future. And so, I stay. New York, I’m not done with you yet.

But as they say, “You can take the girl out of Texas, but you can’t take the Texas out of the girl.” As much as I couldn’t wait to move out of Fort Worth nine years ago, growing up in Texas has molded my identity in ways I will never be able to shake. My whole family lives there (until E3 moves to Boston next week!), as do most of my closest friends, so as much as I love New York, a lot of my heart is in the Lone Star State.

Another thing I’ll never be able to shake? My deep, abiding love of Tex-Mex. It’s one thing New York can’t ever seem to do right–I get my fix by making homemade versions of my favorite dishes. My recipe index already has my red and green salsas and my favorite guacamole, in addition to a fantastic posole and an easy southwestern chicken soup. I have big plans to put a couple of enchilada recipes on here when the weather cools down a little, but it’s hot today, so I’m keeping it simple with this Pineapple Salsa Fresca.

   This recipe is a sweeter, tangier twist on traditional pico de gallo. Fresh pineapple is used instead of tomatoes! Combined with red onion, a serrano pepper, a little garlic, chopped cilantro, lime juice, and salt, it’s a match made in heaven! Everything comes together on the cutting board in about ten minutes–no need for a food processor. Let it sit at room temperature for an hour to let the flavors meld a bit, and then dig in with your favorite tortilla chips!

Pineapple Salsa Fresca is a magical combination of flavors: sweet, tangy, spicy, and a little salty. The chunky, slightly crunchy texture is perfect with crispy tortilla chips! This salsa would also be great with grilled fish or shrimp. Oooh! Or pork tacos!

Yes. Even after nine years in New York, I’m definitely still Texan at heart.

 Pineapple Salsa Fresca
makes about 3 cups

3 cups fresh pineapple (about 1 pound), 1/2-inch dice
1/2 small red onion, 1/4-inch dice
1/2-1 serrano pepper,* minced, seeded (optional)
1 small clove of garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
juice of one lime
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
tortilla chips, for serving

Combine pineapple, onion, serrano, garlic, cilantro, lime, and salt in a medium-large mixing bowl. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to toss all ingredients together. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let salsa sit at room temperature for one hour so the flavors can meld. Serve with tortilla chips.

Leftover salsa will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to two days.

Note:

Jalapeño may be used instead of serrano pepper. You may want two jalapeños, depending on your spice preferences.

Pineapple Salsa Fresca

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Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

New York City is not the place to move if you’re a salsa snob.

I should know. I’ve lived here almost nine years and have yet to find a Mexican restaurant whose salsa is not obviously from a jar. The worst experiences have been one that was mostly ketchup and Tabasco, and another that contained basil.*

*Note to Mexican restaurants everywhere: salsa and marinara are not interchangeable.

Luckily for me, I love to cook, so I have not been doomed to only eat subpar salsa for my tenure in NYC. I’ve learned to make several different varieties–my red Restaurant-Style Salsa is the favorite among my friends. I could definitely make that and some tostadas for Cinco de Mayo and have a perfectly good dinner. But lately, I’ve been seeing gorgeous green tomatillos at my favorite vegetable market, and they are just begging to be made into salsa. Being a total salsa fiend, I am happy to oblige.

This Roasted Tomatillo Salsa is my favorite salsa ever. It’s a little sour from the tomatillos (but not overly so) with pops of freshness from the cilantro and lime, and has a rich, smooth texture. Thick and chunky salsa is not my style.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa takes slightly more work than the Restaurant-Style Salsa, but it’s still a breeze. Most of the 35 minute prep time is just waiting for everything to roast and cool, so it really is a snap.

  Slice some fresh tomatillos in half and place them on a baking sheet with half an onion, two fresh jalapeños, and a couple of cloves of unpeeled fresh garlic. Drizzle everything with olive oil and roast it in a 425F oven for about twenty minutes. Let the vegetables cool for ten minutes, squeeze the soft garlic from its peels, and blitz everything in a food processor (or high-powered blender) with some fresh cilantro, lime juice, and salt. That’s it! This salsa is hardly any work at all, and is infinitely better than any prepared salsa you can imagine.

  Serve Roasted Tomatillo Salsa with nachos, quesadillas, tacos, tostadas, or tortilla chips. Use it as the base for an amazing chicken soup! Pour it over chicken enchiladas before they go in the oven. Spoon it over eggs scrambled with tortillas and cheese and have migas for breakfast <– did that yesterday. Highly recommend.

Any way you serve it, this Roasted Tomatillo Salsa will be a new favorite.

 Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
makes about 2 cups

1 1/2 pounds fresh tomatillos,* husked and rinsed
1-2 fresh jalapeño peppers, stems removed
1/2 medium white onion, peeled
2 cloves garlic, not peeled
olive oil, for drizzling
1/3-1/2 cup fresh cilantro, washed
juice of 1 lime
1/2-3/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

Preheat oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

Slice tomatillos in half. Slice jalapeños in half, and seed if desired. Place on baking sheet along with onion and garlic. Drizzle all vegetables with olive oil. Roast for 15-20 minutes, until starting to brown. Let cool ten minutes.

Squeeze garlic out of its skins. Place roasted vegetables in the bowl of a food processor or high-powered blender. Add cilantro, lime, and salt. Purée until smooth.

Serve immediately, or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to five days.

Note:

Tomatillos and green tomatoes are not interchangeable.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

Restaurant-Style Salsa

I go through phases in my kitchen. In 2010, I made jam for six months. Strawberry, ginger-nectarine, cherry-vanilla. I made them all, plus a rockin’ grapefruit marmalade that I’ll post someday. But as much as I enjoy making jam, I don’t actually eat much of it–a little on a biscuit here and there, but that’s about it. And so the six months of jam unceremoniously came to an end. Then there was the pickling. Oh, I love to pickle! Especially jalapeños and carrots. And I’m sure my roommates just loved the pervasive cloud of vinegar steam that was our kitchen. When I moved in with Henry though, I stopped the pickling cold-turkey. We share a very small apartment with a pocket-sized kitchen, and the idea that our bedroom would reek of vinegar all the time was just too much for either of us to handle. And so I moved on to salsa. In the first four or so months that we lived together, I made a different batch of salsa every week (tomatillo, amarilla, and habanero, to name a few), and we’d crowd our friends into our apartment to test it out, usually with homemade tostadas or tacos. For all the flavors and colors I toyed with, classic Restaurant-Style Salsa was always the favorite.

Being from Texas, I grew up surrounded by chips and salsa. Tex-Mex restaurants are often judged on the quality of their chips and salsa. If the salsa even seems like it might be manufactured elsewhere, the restaurant is not long for this world. La Familia, my favorite hometown Mexican restaurant, brings out freshly made salsa by the pitcher, just to drive home the fact that it is made in-house. When I moved to New York eight years ago, I quickly discovered that a) there were no Tex-Mex restaurants worth patronizing (something that’s been remedied by Lisa Fain), and b) good prepared salsa simply did not exist. There was a brief period where I could find D.L. Jardine’s Texacante at a local specialty foods store, but that didn’t even last six months. And so I was left to make my own, or be salsaless for the foreseeable future. And being a good Tex-patriot, I simply could not go without.

Logically, I started with fresh tomatoes. While there’s nothing better than in-season tomatoes, they simply aren’t available ten months out of the year. Flavorless January tomatoes cannot be made into salsa that’s worth eating. What’s more, when I have made salsa with even the best tomatoes, it turns an unappetizing whitish pink color. It still tastes good, but it sure doesn’t look it. After reading a few recipes online, it was made clear to me that canned was the way to go. Sure, you could blanch and peel fresh tomatoes, but that seems like a lot of work for something that is going to be puréed. Canned tomatoes taste good year-round and have a gorgeous bright red color. Also, because this salsa is blended, there won’t be any of those big chunks of cooked tomato that are often found in jarred salsas. In my humble opinion, whomever decided that “thick n’ chunky” salsa was a good idea was deeply wrong.

In addition to the to a 28-ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes, you’ll need chipotles in adobo. These are jalapeños that have been smoked and then preserved in a flavorful sauce (adobo). They are super smoky and really add a lot of flavor to the finished salsa, but they definitely pack some heat. When adding them, keep in mind your preferred level of spice. I use four chipotles in adobo for something close to medium-hot, but if you have a low tolerance for heat, start with one pepper and go from there. I don’t recommend leaving them out, simply because the flavor is so rich and gives this salsa a wonderfully smoky flavor.

The rest of the ingredients are standard salsa fare: a small red onion, a couple of cloves of garlic, cilantro, lime juice, and a pinch of salt. Place all the ingredients (including the tomatoes and chipotles) into a food processor or high-powered blender, and blitz until no large chunks remain. That’s it! While I love this particular blend, feel free to adjust it to your taste. Want less onion? Only use half. Hate cilantro? Leave it out. This is simply what I like. Take my favorite and make it yours.

Restaurant-Style Salsa is great with chips, of course, but also works well mixed into salad dressings and enchilada sauce. Tomorrow’s recipe uses it as the base for soup! Make sure to swing by and check it out!

 Restaurant-Style Salsa
makes about four cups

1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes (with liquid)
1-5 canned whole chipotles in adobo*
1 small red onion, peeled and quartered
2 cloves garlic
1/4-1/3 cup fresh cilantro, washed
juice of 1 lime
large pinch Kosher or sea salt

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or high-powered blender. Process on high until no large chunks remain, about 30-60 seconds depending on the machine.

Refrigerate salsa in an airtight container for up to one week.

Note:

Chipotles in adobo can be found in the Goya or international aisles at most grocery stores. I buy Goya or La Costeña. They are also available on Amazon. They freeze well for several months.

Restaurant-Style Salsa