One of my ambitions this year is to replace some of the food I buy, with food that I make, and one of the products I was hoping to successfully replace, was salsa. Our very boring, daily menu includes lots of servings of Mexican-ish dishes, like tacos, nachos, burritos and chili con carne. Most of those require jars and boxes of expensive processed products, but they also involve lots of healthy salad, and all the children like them, so what can you do? Learn how to make them yourself, of course. I am starting with salsa, because it is tomato and capsicum season, but I would like to continue with the spice mix, and home made tortillas. Stay tuned!

First, a trip to the vegie shed for tomato and capsicum seconds. Tasmania is the only state I have lived in where you can buy boxes labelled 'sauce tomatoes' every March and April, in all the green grocers and small supermarkets. We do a lot of sauce-making here in Tasmania.

I wanted a roasted capsicum salsa, because that is my favourite, so a little oil, and into the oven they went.

When they are roasted they look revolting, and peeling the skin off them when they have cooled, is a nasty, nasty job, only because they look and feel like small, dead animals at this point.

It is also very messy. However, when you are done, you have a HUGE amount of roast capsicum strips, way more than you will need for salsa.

Here we are, a year's supply of capsicum strips. So I froze most of them in ziploc bags for pizza toppings throughout the year (I actually wasn't sure that they would be nice when defrosted, so I did a test batch over night - but all is well, roast capsicum defrosts to exactly the taste and texture of.... roast capsicum).

At this point I got really bored taking photos, so we will all be using our imaginations from here on in, OK?
I have combined several salsa recipes to get one I liked. One important note - if you are changing a preserves recipe, only ever substitute equal or more acidic ingredients. Any ingredient that might make the recipe more alkaline might also kill you. Just saying.

4 cups of peeled, chopped tomatoes. I like to peel tomatoes for any recipes that require nice big chunks of tomato. To do this, I rinse out the kitchen sink, line it with one layer of tomatoes, pour boiling water over them, wait for a couple of minutes, then poke the skin with a sharp knife, and peel with my fingers. A strangely soothing process.
2 cups chopped capsicum strips
3/4 cups chopped onion
1/2 cup jalapeno peppers (I used a jar that a friend left me when she went overseas) plus one dried chilli, chopped finely with seeds
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup vinegar
1 cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons cumin
1 tablespoon dried oregano leaves
1 1/2 teapsoons salt

Combine all ingredients in large saucepan, bring to boil, stirring frequently, reduce heat, stir occasionally. It should smell like salsa now. I kept it on the heat, simmering, for about 45 mins, until it had reduced somewhat. Then I attacked it with the stick blender, just a couple of stabs, to thicken the sauce, brought it to the boil again, then ladelled it into hot jars.

And, oh, yes, it is quite hot. But that means you can dollop more sour cream on with a clear conscience...


Sounds delicious! This is my recipe for mexican seasoning and is very versatile! I make a huge batch and store it in an airtight container for quick dinners. Add a little cornflour to it if you want your sauce to thicken like the store bought stuff (1 tbs per recipe lot)
Jo said…
Ooh, Nathalie, that looks brilliant. I've added those spices to my shopping list, so should be able to whip it up soon. How cool is it that you worked in a mexican restaurant? My children are jealous already!
Anonymous said…
Yum! I love chili mince and beans. But admit to a bit of cowboy cooking, ie tins mixed and heated. Tins of kidney beans, tomatoes and sauce. Cooked with onion, capsicum, mince and sweet chilli sauce and throw in a few herbs and spices. I eat it with tacos, wraps, corn chips, on its own with lettuce. Love it with sour cream. So quick and easy. And yummy.

I would love to taste your cooked-from-scratch version.
Bek said…
Yum. And this from someone who doesn't like cooked capsicums. But I guess I could make it without them. You've put me in the mood for a mexican feast. With lots of sour cream for sure!
Heather said…
Well, I had never heard of what we call red bell peppers in the U.S. being called capsicums before. You learn something new every day!

We make a lot of our own salsas here, too. I've put raw capsicums (trying out the new lingo) in Pico de Gallo before, but never cooked ones in salsa. I'll have to try it. I like the idea of cooking them and freezing them. I've never done that before either. Thanks for the tip!
Jo said…
Lucinda, I hope you wear the hat when doing cowboy cooking. I always will when cooking Mexican from now on, promise!
Bek, I am not much of a fan of sauteed capsicum, but roasted and peeled, divine. I couldn't find a roast capsicum recipe anywhere, but that is my favourite variety in the jar, so I had to make it up! There are a million recipes out there with just tomato and chilli.
Heather, I often have to ring an American friend to interpret US recipes for me - How much is a stick of butter? Is baking soda the same as baking powder (no) - it's a big ocean between us! (thankfully the magic internet flies mysteriously over it..) I learnt about Pico de Gallo when I was researching salsa recipes, only to discover that our version of jarred salsa is completely inauthentic... ah well, we have no class, but we are happy!
Anonymous said…
And my boots, Jo, I promise!
Jo said…
Yee haaa...!!

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