Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Kickin' RO*TEL Restaurant Style Salsa

Tomatoes, onion, jalapeno, garlic, a little lime juice and cilantro, whirled up in the food processor to give you a nice restaurant style salsa that we all love.

Restaurant Style Salsa

Restaurant style salsa is so easy to make at home and a can of RO*TEL tomatoes will give it just the right kind of punch. Really, just about any place that you use a canned tomato, you can substitute RO*TEL for some added flavor, and salsa is just one way I love to use RO*TEL tomatoes.

Now, don't get me wrong. I absolutely love fresh from the garden tomatoes - when they are in season and at their peak flavor. A fresh chopped tomato salsa is incredible as a garnish, or for a fresh salsa, such as pico de gallo, so for this, you'll want to pretty much pulverize them since here, we're talking my favorite super easy, perfect for dipping with white corn tortilla chips salsa, like the kind that you get in a Mexican restaurant.

I like a lot of kick with my chip salsa, so I use the hot version of RO*TEL now - the one that contains both jalapeno and habanero peppers - which I must warn you, is quite fiery. If you prefer to have a bit more control over the heat level, or to keep your salsa more on the mild side, just use either original or mild Rotel and between one to three jalapenos, from which you remove both the seeds and ribs. Use care when handling jalapenos! I highly recommend using rubber kitchen gloves when handling any kind of of hot pepper, because the residue from the peppers will stay with your finger tips no matter how much you scrub them, and trust me, you will rub your eye at some point!

When garden fresh tomatoes are out of season, I love San Marzano tomatoes for this restaurant style salsa. They are a variety of plum tomato and purportedly, the best tasting sauce tomato, because they are sweeter, and less acidic than, say, a more familiar Roma. They come from the small town of San Marzano, Italy near Naples, and canned Marzanos grown there in compliance with Italian law, will have the "D.O.P." emblem on their label. They are available in most grocery markets, but if you can't find them, just substitute a can of a good variety of whole tomatoes.

The ingredients.

Add the tomatoes to a food processor.

I also like Vidalia onions in my salsa and lucky me, they are finally showing up in the markets down here too!  Now if you don't know, Vidalia onions are grown in Vidalia, Georgia and they are a sweet variety onion that we adore in the south.  I use Vidalia onions predominately in my cooking, but when they aren't available, we almost always have a Mexican sweet onion that will make a fine substitute. You can, of course, substitute a winter sweet onion, yellow or even white onion.

Now... I personally don't care for cilantro - though I have more recently been trying to like it - and thank you Ina Garten for validating that with your equal dislike of it! It's growing on me a little bit better now, but don't worry if you don't like it. Just use flat leaf Italian parsley, usually more readily available in my own garden and a much milder flavor for me anyway - and yes, I know, it's not the same, so if you love cilantro, that's the herb to use here.

Pulse several times to desired consistency.


Recipe: Restaurant Style Salsa

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 15 min | Yield: About 12 servings

  • 2-1/2 to 3 pounds of raw tomatoes, skinned, chopped & juices reserved, or 1 (28 ounce) can of San Marzano tomatoes
  • 2 (10 ounce) cans of Rotel tomatoes
  • 1/4 of a Vidalia onion, or 1 whole, small white
  •    or yellow onion, cut into chunks
  • 1 to 3 fresh jalapeno peppers, cleaned, seeded,
  •    ribs remove and chopped
  • 1 large clove of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 a teaspoon of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar
  • Pinch of cumin
  • 1/4 cup of fresh lime juice (about 1 to 1-1/2 limes)
  • 1/4 cup well packed cilantro or flat leaf parsley, or to taste, set a few leaves aside to chop for garnish

To a food processor, add all of the tomatoes, onion, peppers, garlic, salt, sugar, cumin, lime juice and cilantro. Pulse several times to desired consistency. Pour into a container, cover and refrigerate several hours to let the flavors settle.

Note: For the fiery version, use the Hot Rotel diced tomatoes with habaneros, and if you use it, you will not likely want the added peppers. For less heat, substitute original or mild RO*TEL and add hot peppers to your own desired heat level. For canned tomatoes, use 1 (28 ounce) can of San Marzano tomatoes, or other whole canned tomatoes.Can also substitute your choice of other hot chilies for the jalapenos.

Small Batch Pico de Gallo: Mix together 2 cups seeded and diced tomatoes, juices retained, with 3/4 cup diced red or yellow onion, 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded, ribs removed and minced, 2 teaspoons lime juice, 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro and salt and pepper to taste. Let rest for 30 minutes before serving.


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©Deep South Dish
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