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Super Bowl Recipe: Salsa

Over the years we've found there is a bit of an art to making a decent salsa. The first few tries, years ago, we would just throw everything in the blender and build from there. But we've learned over the years that you start with the tomato and onion, and then build your levels of heat and cilantro from there. Think of this as less of a recipe than an outline, with room for interpretation and cushion for the natural fluctuation that occurs in produce. You can substitute types of peppers, amounts of garlic, whatever, this is just a fun starting off point.

We've included two variations in preparation that begin with the same ingredients, but will yield different flavors when they are blended together. You are welcome to peel your tomatoes, but we find that we really don't mind a little curled skin in our salsa as long as it tastes good.

Of course, this is a most excellent recipe to make for your Super Bowl party. It's after the jump...

Salsa Basics

8 or so ripe roma tomatoes or vine ripe tomatoes with stem end removed 1 small onion (white or yellow), peeled and halved Cilantro 3 or 4 garlic cloves, peeled Limes 3 or so jalapeños (use a little more than you think you will need, jalapeños vary in heat) Salt and fresh ground pepper

Traditional Salsa:

In a stock pot halfway filled with water, add your garlic, tomatoes, onion, and jalapenos. Boil until the skin on the tomato cracks and drain in a colander.

Roasted Tomato Salsa:

Arrange garlic, onion, tomatoes, and jalapenos on an aluminum foil lined cookie sheet. Broil for 5 minutes on each side, charring the tomato and jalapeno skin nicely (they shouldn't be totally charred black, just about halfway on the outside only).

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To make either salsa:

Add onion, most of the tomatoes (keep one just in case), garlic and a few sprigs of cilantro (mostly destemmed) to your blender or food processor. Add one jalapeño, destemmed, and if you are sensitive, deseeded (do not touch your eyes after this). Blend carefully -- heat will build pressure in your blender if you seal too tightly. (Yes, we've gotten sprayed by hot salsa before, and it is not fun, and quite embarrassing.)

Taste for heat, and add more jalapeño if needed (the salsa will get slightly hotter as it cools), blending fully and tasting after it has been added. If you use all the jalapeños and it still isn't hot enough, go ahead and add your seeds and pith from the previous peppers. Now add your lime, salt and pepper, and taste to adjust those seasonings. Serve with your favorite chips or meal.

Yields 3-4 cups of salsa, slightly more for the boiled version.

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