Salsa Lessons!

Tacos are a large part of the casual eating repetoire in my household. Regina and Bennet both love tacos and it’s a fun way to eat and to get kids interested in the idea of making food and assembling food. Kids like to feel empowered to make their own food choices, and Taco Tuesday (or Thursday or Saturday or…) is a great and mostly nutritious way to give children those choices.

These salsa recipes are simple, deliberately easy, and not particularly authentic. Frankly I don’t know how authentic Queso dip is or if you’ll ever find it in Mexico (queso fundido it is not), but it is fun and gooey and simple to make. It’s my copy of the sort of cheese dip common to the Mexican restaurants I frequented in Atlanta where I grew up — very much inauthentic, but generally simple and delicious.

Serve these salsas with grilled chicken or ground beef picadillo or carnitas or carne asada or whatever else you fill your tacos with. A cerveza or two wouldn’t be frowned on either.


Gringo salsa: Makes about 2 cups

1 14 ounce can peeled whole tomatoes
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons chopped onion
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, washed
Juice of half a lime,
2 ounces of mild green chilies, from a 4 ounce can
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cracked black pepper to taste
Pinch of sugar

Drain canned tomatoes, reserving liquid. In a blender combine tomato liquid, garlic, onion, cilantro, lime juice, chilies, salt, pepper, and sugar. Blend until ingredients are coarsely chopped. Add peeled tomatoes and puree until smooth but still slightly chunky.

Chipotle salsa: Makes about a cup

1 cup gringo salsa
1 canned chipotle in adobo (2 if you like the heat!)
1/2 teaspoon sugar

Blend all ingredients until well combined.

Pico de Gallo: Makes just under three cups

Juice of half a lime
1/2 cup red onion, cut into a 1/4-inch dice and rinsed in cold water
1/3 cup chopped cilantro, washed
4 ripe roma tomatoes, cut into a 1/4-inch dice, approximately 2 cups
1 jalapeño minced, stem, seeds & rib removed
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Cracked pepper to taste
Pinch of sugar

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and toss gently with a large spoon.

Simple Mango Salsa: Makes about two cups

3/4 cup fresh Pico de Gallo
1 cup fresh mango, chopped into a rough 1/4-inch dice
Pinch of chili powder
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and toss gently with a large spoon.

Gooey Queso Dip: makes about 2 cups

2 tablespoons salted butter
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups 2% or whole milk, room temperature
10 slices of white “Swiss” American cheese, about 8 ounces, cut into smaller pieces
1 tablespoon of canned mild chilies or minced jalapeño if you like some real heat!
Pinch of cumin
Pinch garlic powder
Pinch chili powder
Salt & pepper to taste

In a small saucepan melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour to create a roux. Heat butter, stirring occasionally, until it turns a light blond color and smells slightly nutty. When the butter looks foamy add milk and turn heat up to medium high. Whisking slowly bring the milk up to a low boil, cooking until it thickens.

Add cheese in several batches and whisk until it’s all melted and smooth. Add green chilies and spices. Serve hot with tortilla chips!

Guacamole: Makes about 2 cups

2 tablespoons minced cilantro, washed
Juice of one lime
2 large hass avocados, peeled and seeded
1/4 cup minced red or white onion, rinsed in cold water
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and cracked pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and mash with two forks until smooth. Sometimes I’ll add minced jalapeño or grilled corn kernels or a fistful of chopped tomato. Feel free to play around!

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