March 23

Restaurant Style Salsa

I have always been anti-tomatoes. Oftentimes, they’re too squishy or they lack flavor. They seem pointless on a salad. I didn’t get what depth they add to Mexican food. I didn’t even like tomato soup. Or rather, I’d willingly dip the edges of my grilled cheese sandwich in tomato soup, but I’d never actually drink down the stuff. I enjoyed a hearty ragu and if it had chunks of tomato it in (which they damn near always do), I’d work through it. If someone cooked for me and added them to the dish, I’d be polite and try to stomach them. If I could eat around the tomatoes, I would. Growing up as the pickiest of eaters, I learned to deal. But I didn’t learn to love tomatoes.

However, in the last few years, the more Mexican restaurants I’ve visited, the more I’ve embraced salsa. It started off innocently enough as just dipping the edge of a tortilla chip in the salsa’s juices. If I picked up a stray chunk of ingredient, the chip was shaken until it fell off. No chunks please. Then I started getting a bit braver. A chunk here, a chunk there. A bit of celery at one place. A little onion. I was proud of myself in a really stupid sort of way. It was another picky hang up I was getting over. Like a lot of people, I really enjoy a good salsa and chips. The right combination of tomato, garlic, onion, cilantro, lime, and spice makes me swoon. Paired with a nice warm taco chip sprinkled with big salt crystals… mm.

When I finally got over my dislike of spicy foods (quite a few years ago, now), I tried my mom’s hot sauce. It’s a simple recipe of pureed tomatoes, jalapeños, salt, and pepper. No frills, but tasty nonetheless. It was always present on the table when mom made Mexican food. I have been making the same hot sauce for a couple years now, particularly when I make nachos (because it’s the best stuff to dip your freshly fried chips in). I got a random hair up my butt, though, to try making an actual salsa. Problem being, I didn’t want a lot of chunk. I didn’t want something that resembled pico de gallo, but I didn’t want something so smooth it was my mom’s hot sauce.

That’s when I found the recipe through The Pioneer Woman’s blog (dear gods, how I love her and wish I could dine in her kitchen every night) for restaurant style salsa. I knew I had to try it the next time we were doing Mexican, and I got my wish when we had friends over to celebrate The Fellow’s™ birthday. I was making nachos for the guys and I knew this salsa recipe would shine!

My only change to the recipe was using one less can of Rotel than it calls for. All the other ingredients started getting pretty full in my food processor and I figured I had more than enough tomato in the recipe to start. I can’t say what her version tastes like, but mine was pretty damn divine. The guys loved it and I couldn’t pull myself away from the chips and the food processor. Because the recipe made so much, I was able to portion out the finished product into three freezer bags – each with 1 cup of salsa – labeled it, and threw it in the basement freezer for later consumption. I still had about 2 cups left for dinner and there’s less than a half cup left. Her recipe also calls for a lot of cilantro, and even if you’re not a huge fan of it (like me), I would highly recommend putting as much as she says. It makes all the difference.


Restaurant Style Salsa

source:  The Pioneer Woman [Restaurant Style Salsa]


1 can (28 ounce) whole tomatoes with juice
2 cans (10 ounce) Rotel
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 whole jalapeno, quartered and sliced thin
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup cilantro (more to taste!)
juice of a whole small lime


1) Throw all the ingredients into a food processor.

2) Pulse 7-8 times, or until desired consistency.

3) Store in an air tight container and let sit in the refrigerator for a few hours to let the flavors meld.