Weeknight CookingHow to CookDIY FoodEntertainingMexican CookingWinterPantryNot Recipes

How to Make Salsa without a Recipe

188 + Save

If you like it, save it!

Save and organize all of the stuff you love in one place.

Got it!

If you like something…

Click the heart, it's called favoriting. Favorite the stuff you like.

Got it!

Here at Food52, we love recipes -- but do we always use them? Of course not. Because once you realize you don't always need a recipe, you'll make your favorite dishes a lot more often.

Today: Homemade salsa shouldn't be constrained to tomato season -- Food52's Assistant Editor Marian Bull shows us how to make it with year-round staples.


How to Make Salsa without a Recipe

So you'd like to DIY your salsa on Cinco de Mayo but you're staunchly opposed to the purchase or consumption of out-of-season tomatoes? Fear not -- these two things are not mutually exclusive. There is a happy medium here, and it relies on a can.

Good salsa does not necessarily depend on perfect, fresh tomatoes, the kind you want to eat like an apple on a hot day in July. It depends instead on the right bells and whistles that will spruce up a party-sized can of diced tomatoes like baubles and bulbs on a Christmas tree. (In fact, you could serve this at Christmas! It's red and green! But I digress.)

How to Make Salsa Without a Recipe on Food52

Pulsed together with alliums, spice, heat, acid, and a forceful amount of herbs, canned tomatoes transform into the kind of salsa you might find at not-fancy Mexican restaurants. Keep it as chunky as you can handle, or take it further down the food processor rabbit hole for an almost-purée. It's your salsa; you make the rules.

A few notes about ingredients here: I like fire-roasted tomatoes for their depth of flavor. Yes, you can omit the cilantro if you hate it. And don't be afraid of the raw alliums -- they will mellow from the acid of the tomatoes, and add a necessary bite of freshness. 

Grab the nearest margarita. Here's how to make out-of-season salsa without a recipe:

How to Make Salsa Without a Recipe on Food52

1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine one large (28-ounce) or two small (14-ounce) cans of diced tomatoes. Add half an onion, chopped, a minced garlic clove or two, and a few pinches of ground cumin and chili powder. Add a lime's worth of juice -- or two, if your margarita has already begun to kick in and you're feeling daring. Chop a jalapeño and add it in there -- or just use half, if you like things mild. I like to add a big handful of cilantro leaves as well.

How to Make Salsa Without a Recipe on Food52

2. Blend until the salsa is just on the brink of your desired consistency.

How to Make Salsa Without a Recipe

3. Taste for seasoning -- I suggest using a tortilla chip for this. (Consider it method acting.) If it needs anything, add it now, then pulse a few more times. Once it's as chunky or as thin as you like it, dump it into a bowl, then empty out a bag of chips onto the nearest platter. Bring out a six-pack, or shake up a few margaritas, and you've got a fiesta -- with no white-bellied tomatoes in sight.

How to Make Salsa without a Recipe

Photos by James Ransom

Tags: salsa, cinco de mayo, mexican, how-to & diy, entertaining, everyday cooking, winter, pantry, tomatoes

💬 View Comments ()