The Perfect Tomato Salsa

For me, having a food blog is sometimes more than just sharing new recipes, techniques, and pretty pictures. Ultimately, I started writing and posting here as a way to explore my other creative passions (photography and food) aside from strictly designing all day. It has proved to be a great outlet and place for me to share and network with an amazing community. It has also become a place for me to tell stories that intertwine with my life. I love that I can look back and I’ve basically documented what I was doing at the time. So, before you pass this recipe up as just another salsa recipe, I invite you to read what this salsa really means to me and let me tell you a story about how I met my husband and became a little more confidant in the kitchen.

It starts with the first time I tasted this salsa. It was Summer and my Mexican-American aunt who lives in California was up for a visit. I had to of been in junior high at the time, so food was probably the last thing on my mind, but she made this salsa and brought it to my parent’s place and I could not for the life of me stop eating it. It was the freshest salsa I had ever eaten; chunky, with just the right amount of flavor and spiciness to every bite. I remember my mom and I declaring that she had to give us the recipe and teach us how to make it. She is seriously one of the kindest women in my family and quickly obliged.

I was already relatively comfortable baking in the kitchen, it was one of the first things my mom taught me, but cooking was still relatively new to me. So when my aunt set out all the ingredients and started to prepare the salsa, I was baffled. Where’s the recipe? How do you know how much to put in? She laughed at this, she never used a recipe when she made salsa, it was all about taste, memory, and just going for it. It was probably the best advise I learned about cooking and something I strongly encourage others to do as well.



Fast forward to my collage years. It was the Summer of 2004 when I took a seat in my public speaking class (a required class, seriously) while attending art school. In walked Jared and it may have been love at first sight, I’m not really sure, I just remember wanting him to sit next to me so badly. He didn’t by the way, but later claimed he wanted to, but was a bit shy. It was an 11 week class, 1 class per week and I don’t think it was until week 9 that either one of us had gotten up enough courage to even utter our first words to each other. Although, by now we had both given several speeches to the class about ourselves.

Week 9 however, was our “how to” speech. We had to explain something we knew how to do really well in front of the class and of all things I choose this salsa. It was perfect. By now my 19 year old self had made salsa enough times to have that memory and I was excited to have something to share with the class where everyone could be a part of what I made. The teachers critique was that I had to many moments of silence while I was chopping everything, I wasn’t planning on becoming the next cooking show sensation, so I was fine with that. What I was most excited about was Jared telling me it was the best salsa he had ever tasted. I swear the salsa sealed the deal and got us to start talking, as food should and usually does. We spent the rest of the Summer inseparable, we got our first apartment together that Winter, and we are celebrating our 2nd wedding anniversary in August.

Slave Free Tomatoes
I’ve been a pretty conscious eater for most of my mid to late twenties. I shop at my farmers market, I’m a member at my local coop, and now I have my own garden. These aren’t always choices everyone can make, but when I hear that the US is still using slavery to grow tomatoes, it gets me fired up. Honestly, I didn’t even know about this until several weeks ago and I’m guessing many of you didn’t know either. This can change though.

When Jessica put together an event to raise awareness of slave free tomatoes, I instantly connected. Reaching out to people, gathering ideas, and listening can be the first step in the direction of change. If you would like to get involved the first step is to send letters to supermarket CEOs using this link. It takes less than a minute to do. You can also shop at Whole Foods and Trader Joes, two large grocery stores that encourage slave free tomatoes. Without pressure from consumers, policies will not change. Let’s do this! And again, thank you to Jessica for organizing and reaching out.

Tomato Salsa

This is less of a recipe and more of a suggestion based on taste. Use it as your guide, not your recipe. I now make my version of this without the tomato sauce most of the time, but have included it because it’s the way my aunt makes it. It’s maybe more like a pico de gallo, but I still love it. Adding more tomatoes and/or sauce will help cool down the heat if you get a little crazy with the jalapeño. I recommend Roma’s when making salsa because they have less liquid than the bigger guys, which keeps the salsa less watery.

5 Roma tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/2 white onion, roughly chopped
1 jalepeño, seeded and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
2-3 green onions, white and light green parts only, chopped
juice of 1 lime
2-4 tablespoon tomato sauce (optional)
salt to taste

Combine everything in a large bowl, seasoning to taste with salt. Adding more or less based on your preference.

Eat at room temperature or if you want to make ahead, cover and place in the fridge. Give it a good stir before serving, as some of the tomato liquid will have settled at the bottom.