Trio of Salsas - Roasted Tomatillo, Spicy Habanero, and Pico de Gallo

Before I start, I'd like to take a moment of silence for my beloved dog, Gogo.  He was put down today due to a failing heart-- he was 12 years old.  He was not only the best dog in the world but my best friend as well.  I've had him since I was 13 and literally took him everywhere I went til I moved out for college at 18. Untitled-1

He never failed to make me laugh with the way his tongue never fit in his mouth, or how he was a vicious little shit for something that only weighed 10 pounds ( I am pretty sure he's taken a bite out of the majority of my friends).  But most importantly of all, he was my best companion and has been there for me through thick and thin.  He knew when I was sad, he would lick away my tears and give me a look of " everything will be alright" .  He always gave me the best greetings when I came home, he'd hop on his hind legs and yap as loud as he could, barely being able to contain his excitement.  He was probably my biggest fan.  I will miss you Gogo and I know you are happy in Heaven.  Thank you for being my best friend for all these years -- for making me laugh and smile, for melting away any anger or sadness, and for understanding me when no one else did.  I love you.

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I just came back from a wonderful camping trip this weekend, I will be doing a post on it soon.  I prepared a bunch of salsa to bring since it is easy to eat and take a long.  I made three types - Roasted Tomatillo, Spicy Habanero and your traditional Pico de Gallo.  I actually learned all three of these recipes while working in restaurant kitchens from my fellow Hispanic coworkers.  These go great with chips or on top of some breakfast tacos or eggs in the morning.  You can control the spiciness of the salsa by the number of peppers you add in -- my fiance and I are capsaicin masochist so we enjoy making it EXTREMELY spicy but for the recipes I have cut down the number of peppers so my readers will not complain about extreme heartburn and other spicy surprises that come hand in hand with spicy food.  O_O

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A few things you should know about peppers:

  • For fresh peppers, choose ones that are firm and bright to dark green in color, avoid any bruises.
  • For dried peppers, pick ones that are flexible and do not crumble when you squeeze them in your hand and ones that are uniform in color (red to reddish dark brown).
  • The capsaicin is stored mostly in the seeds and the ribs of the peppers, so if you are not a big fan of spiciness but still would like the flavor of the peppers, remove as much of the seeds and ribs as you can.
  • Some peppers will develop "corking", or small stress stripes on the skin-- (i.e.Jalapenos, Habaneros) this means they are ripe and ready to use.

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Ingredients for Roasted Tomatillo:

  • 8-12 tomatillos, quartered
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 avocado, pitted and sliced
  • 3 serrano peppers, rib and seeds removed
  • 1 jalapeno, rib and seeds removed
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 lime squeezed
  • salt to taste

Pre-heat oven to 400F.

For the Roasted Tomatillo salsa, take a large roasting pan and line with foil or parchment paper.  Coat the tomatillos and garlic evenly with the oil and roast for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and carefully empty the contents, juices and all, into a blender.  Blend on high with garlic, onion, cilantro, and peppers.  Add lime juice and salt to taste.

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Ingredients for Spicy Habanero:

  • 1 cup Japanese dried chiles
  • 1 cup dried Ancho chiles
  • 4-6 medium sized tomatoes, quartered
  • 6 cloves  garlic
  • 4 habanero chiles, ribs and seeds removed
  • 2 serrano chiles, ribs and seeds removed
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • salt to taste

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Pre-heat oven to 400F.

For the Spicy Habanero salsa, take a large roasting pan and line with foil or parchment paper.  Coat the tomatoes and 4 cloves of garlic evenly with olive oil and roast for 20 minutes.  Boil water in large pot.  Heat a large saucepan at medium heat and toast the dried chiles with the remaining garlic, about 5 minutes. (This helps bring out the smokiness of the salsa) Reduce the heat if chiles start burning,  be careful not to burn the chiles too much or it will make the salsa bitter.  Immediately take the toasted chiles and place in the boiling water for 5 minutes, this process rehydrates them.  Remove from heat and pour contents into blender.  Add additional peppers, cilantro and sugar and blend on high.  Add salt to taste.

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Ingredients for Pico de Gallo:

  • 4-5 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 medium purple onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 serrano peppers, minced
  • 1/2 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 lime, freshly squeezed
  • salt to taste

Mix all of the chopped ingredients in a bowl and marinate in lime juice, at least 15 minutes.  Add salt to taste.

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You can always adjust the spiciness and saltiness of the salsas to your personal preference.  If you like thicker salsas you can add more tomatoes or peppers and if you like thinner salsas simply add more water.  These are really simple dips to make for large dinner parties, or in my case, a camping trip.  :)