in Food

Still the Best Salsa Ever

Happy Labor Day!

Today I’d like to re-post a very important bit of information that I originally shared last September. I am not joking when I say this is the best damn salsa I’ve ever had. Make a batch, and see if you don’t agree.

Two winters ago, Kris and Jenn bought me and Jeremy each a copy of the Cook’s Illustrated cookbook, The Best Recipe. Last year, Kris tried the book’s recipe for fresh salsa. It’s fantastic. Subtle, flavorful, delicious.

Here’s the recipe from the book, followed by our modifications:

Fresh Red Table Salsa

  • 3 large very ripe tomatoes (~2#), cored and diced small
  • 1/2 cup tomato juice
  • 1 small jalapeno or other fresh chile, minced (remove seeds for mild salsa)
  • 1 medium red onion, diced small
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, minced
  • 1/2 cup juice from 4 medium limes
  • salt to taste

Blend every thing together in blender or food processor. Put the salsa in the fridge for 8+ hours (the longer the better). Enjoy!

Things we have learned with this recipe:

  • Be careful with the lime juice. Too much lime juice spoils the flavor.
  • If, like me, you’re not a fan of cilantro, be sure the leaves are chopped fine. You may want to reduce the cilantro to just 1/4 cup.
  • For optimum flavor, follow J.D.’s Rule of Garlic: “Always add five times the amount of garlic called for by the recipe.” In this case, use five cloves of garlic instead of one clove. You’ll thank me for it later.
  • To vary the heat of the salsa, alter the number of chiles (in particular, the quantity of seeds from the chiles). Kris doesn’t like hot salsa, so we don’t use any chile seeds. It tastes fantastic even without them.

Try this salsa. You’ll be glad you did.

I dreaded Labor Day as a kid. I felt as if Dad took the day’s name literally. It was always a day of huge yard projects, of working outside. It sucked.

As an adult, I’ve continued to labor most Labor Days. It’s more fun now, though. The day off gives me a chance to work on long-avoided projects.

This summer I’ve been especially negligent around the house. True, much of this is due to my knee surgery in May, but part of it is due to a natural laziness found in the Roth blood. As a result, things are in a shambles. The lawn has begun to die (and has remain unmowed much of the summer). The car hasn’t had its oil changed in nearly a year. (It hasn’t been washed or vacuumed in that period, either.) Piles of stuff have accumulated on the library table, next to this computer. I have a half dozen boxes filled with stuff that needs to be sorted and put away. Plus, there’s the usual chores that need to be done, all of which I’ve been avoiding.

Today I managed to make a dent in this list of projects. I didn’t accomplish everything, and I didn’t even do everything that Kris had on my “honey do” list, but I did finish several major tasks, and start on a few more. I wanted to be productive. It’s the first time that I’ve felt like that in months. It felt great.

There’s still much left to do before I go to bed. I have seven or eight boxes of stuff piled in the living room. I need to sort the CDs and books and notes. I need to purge much of the stuff in the boxes. I need to pay my bills.

Also of note: I played with the cats. I slept with the cats.

Life is good.

For dinner tonight I grilled steaks. I grilled a cheap-ass pepper steak (from Thriftway) for myself and a filet mignon for Kris. My dinner was okay — a lot of steak but not that flavorful, which is what I wanted — but Kris’ was great. She said it was the best steak that she’d ever had. A good filet mignon can be like that.

In an hour or so, I’ll make a batch of chocolate chip cookies. When they’re done, I’ll eat them while they’re warm, dunking them in cold milk.



On 01 September 2003 (08:40 PM),
Ron Roth said:

Your dad must have been related to mine. After dreading the start of school, each year dad made us glad that school was starting and Labor Day was over by the large numbers of projects that he tried to finish on Labor Day so he would have them done before summer was over. I think Shanika is glad for school tomorrow also because I had her helping me stain the fence today so it would be done before summer is over.
In our freezer is some of the best steak I have ever eaten. Last year a friend that was a steak ‘connesuier’ (his words not mine) told me how to raise and feed out a cow to make great steaks, he used to have 50 acres just so he could raise his own beef and his family ate more than one cow per year so I figured he must know what he was talking about. Eileen’s brother tried it and then we dry aged it for 21 days before cutting it up. It is the tenderest beef I have ever eaten. Nothing I have ever had in a restaraunt compares with it not even beef I have had in the midwest. I did have a really great 1 1/2 inch thick pork chop at Mike Ditka’s restaraunt in downtown Chicago though and, even though I have never been a great fan of pork, I am wondering how you raise a great hog.

On 01 September 2003 (10:28 PM),
dowingba said:

Labor day = time and a half pay.

On 01 September 2003 (10:45 PM),
Virginia said:

Ron, when am I invited to your house for a steak dinner? Does the steak go well with Fresh Red Table Salsa? I am going to try the salsa recipe tomorrow. I’ll let you know if J.D. is telling the truth. Up till now the best salsa I ever ate was made by Judy Headings, (Steve Headings wife) She had learned how to make it in Mexico.

On 02 September 2003 (07:38 AM),
Aimee Miron said:

Regarding cilantro …

According to a famous Portland bistro chef, I have learned that the more you chop the leaves of cilantro, the stronger the smokey flavor of the herb. For a more subtle, less invasive addition, the chef recommends tearing (by hand) the leaves from the stems, and further tearing the leaves to the desired size. This results in a slight bruise which releases a different flavor than the flavor generated by the chemical reaction between steel knives and cilantro when a fine chopping is required.


On 02 September 2003 (08:15 AM),
Tiffany said:

Well, you would have envied my Labor Day! After a lot of pre-Labor Day work, I have nothing to do on Labor Day. I read in bed until 1pm, getting up only to eat. My cats were confused about my behavior, but happy to join me. Rich worked in the garage most of the day. We saw �S.W.A.T.� after dinner, good but predictable.

On 04 September 2005 (11:33 PM),
Joe B said:

I make really good salsa too. email me for recipe.

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