People who love cilantro love this recipe. The flavors burst in the mouth. Buoyed by the lemon juice, with a kick from the hot pepper and onion, it has an addictive quality to it. A bowl of this and a bag of chips is a great offering to a potluck.
This recipe has several lives. It starts out as a fresh topping or dip, transitions to a cooked sauce for fish or pasta, and transforms into the base for several soups. In a way, it represents the approach cooks have always taken, often at the last minute, to use what’s left in the refrigerator.
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro, washed
- 1 bunch green onions or 1/2 red or sweet white onion
- 6-8 small or 3-4 medium tomatoes – or large handful of grape tomatoes
- 1/8 tsp. cayenne, a few drops tabasco or other hot sauce, 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes or ½ to 1 jalapeno or other fresh hot pepper – whatever you like that gives a peppery bite to things
- Juice of one lemon
- Salt and pepper
- In processor, pulse onion and cilantro until coarsely chopped.
- Add tomatoes (first quarter or cut in chunks), pepper, lemon juice and salt and pepper.
- Pulse until chopped and blended.
- Check for flavor. It should have a dominant cilantro taste with a good sour tang and slight hot kick at the end.
Phase 1 – Freshly made
- Nachos– Serve with chips or over other nacho ingredients.
- Quesadillas – Spread on a flour tortilla, protein of your choice – taco meat, cooked chicken, fresh crab, etc., sprinkle with grated cheddar and jack, put another tortilla on top, heat it in the microwave or hot oven for one minute, until cheese melts, cut in wedges and serve as an appetizer.
- Baked potatoes – Bake potatoes in oven or microwave. Cut open and fluff. Sprinkle some mixture of cheeses (cheddar and feta or jack) over it, heat in oven or microwave until the cheeses melt. Top generously with salsa.
- Garlic Potatoes and Cheese – Cut yellow Finn or other waxy potatoes into chunks, toss with whole garlic cloves and olive oil. Bake, tightly covered in microwave, until soft. Top with mixed grated cheeses. Heat until cheese melts. Serve with the salsa.
Phase 2 – One or two days later
- Huevos Rancheros – Heat the salsa in a non-stick frying pan. Gently drop several eggs into the pan, making slight depression for each one. Cook gently until they are “poached”, sprinkle with cheese, let the cheese melt, serve over corn tortilla.
- Baked fish – Pour salsa over fresh red snapper and cook in the microwave or broil.
- Potato or pasta salad – mix with cooked cubed potatoes or cooked pasta for picnics or quick cold side dish
Phase 3 – Up to four days later
- Tortilla Soup
Use the salsa as the base for tortilla soup. Heat defrosted frozen or canned chicken broth with the salsa, fresh crushed garlic, and fresh lime juice. After it has heated, top with chopped fresh cilantro and shredded fried tortillas or crumbled leftover tortilla chips. Sprinkle with grated cheese before serving.