Quick Red Salsa

This is one of the recipes I know by heart. We have tortillas for dinner about once a week, and this salsa is always on the side. It tastes better than anything you get out of a jar, and it takes less time to make than to read the recipe.
  • Food Processor
1. With the food processor running, drop peeled garlic cloves into the processor through the feed tube. Leave the food processor running until the garlic is completely chopped, usually about 10 seconds.

2. Put the cilantro in the food processor, and using one second pulses, chop until fine. This should be about five pulses.

3. Add the onion, and use one second pulses to chop to a medium dice, about 3 pulses.

4. Add the tomatoes, chipotle puree, and the juice of the 1/2 lime. Process until you get the consistency you want – I usually shoot for “just a little chunky, not quite soup.

5. Taste for salt – I usually wind up adding about 1/2 tsp of kosher salt (a big pinch). I pulse the processor once or twice to mix the salt in.
Yum. That’s what I’m looking for!
*Though I prefer the salsa if it is made with Muir Glen Fire Roasted Diced tomatoes, any canned diced tomato would work. I’ve had good results with Muir Glen (regular) diced, and OK results with Ro*Tel tomatoes and Hunts Organic diced.
*Adjust the heat by adding more (or less) chipotle.
*About the only way to mess up this recipe is to add too much onion, or to over-process the onion. Too much onion will overpower the rest of the ingredients – you want some bite from the onion, but don’t over do it. If you over-process the onion, you get onion water, which doesn’t taste that good. Make sure you chop the onion with one second pulses, and not by just running the processor!
*You can make this recipe without the food processor – just chop everything fine, and mix it together in a bowl.
*For a thicker salsa, more like a sauce to be used on meat or fish: once the salsa is made, heat a frypan over medium-high heat with a tablespoon of oil. When the pan is hot (the oil will be shimmering), add the salsa and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened. It makes a great topping on white fleshed fish, or to be spooned on chicken breasts.
*The salsa tastes best if it rests for a half an hour for the flavors to mingle.
*It will keep for about a week in the refrigerator, and can be frozen indefinitely. If you freeze it, once thawed it will be watery – I usually dump the thawed salsa in a strainer to drain out the liquid. Or, you can cook the salsa at that point (see note above).
*Fresh tomatoes for the canned tomatoes – but if you do, please make sure they are summer fresh, ripe tomatoes – store bought tomatoes are pretty awful. If you have to use store bought, get grape tomatoes, or roma tomatoes.* Use about 3 pounds of tomatoes, core and halve them, and broil or grill them until they’re browned.
*On second thought, I stand by my original statement – if you can’t get fresh, local, summer tomatoes, buy canned. They just taste better.
*Fresh jalapenos or poblanos for the chipotle (stemmed, then pulsed until chopped after the cilantro is added – 1 Jalapeno is what I add when I have one on hand)
*Pickled jalapenos for the chipotle (same instructions as fresh, above; I use about 1 tablespoon)
*Cider vinegar for the lime juice(1 tsp, or to taste)
*Fresh thyme for the cilantro (I use about 1tsp of thyme – it’s stronger than the cilantro)


  1. Hi Mike, your recipe calls for “1/4 cup of cilantro”, yet cilantro is sold in bunches. How do you translate that into cup volume (or any bunched herb, for that matter)?

  2. 1/4 cup is just an estimate; when I’m making salsa, I eyeball it. I grab what looks like a quarter cup of the cilantro bunch, rip it off, and toss it in the food processor.

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