Cooking on the Cheap 2–Salsa

12Jul09

(For my first Cooking on the Cheap post click here.)

My experimenting with salsa began oddly enough out of a misguided laziness. We wanted Mexican food for dinner, but the ONLY thing we were missing was salsa. I’ve always disliked going out to the store for only one ingredient, even though we have a grocery store only two blocks away. So I took a quick look through the cupboards and the refrigerator and decided I could make some. (I know—walking two blocks to the store seems like it should be easier than making it from scratch. I said the laziness was misguided, didn’t I?)

What I finished with actually surprised me. I was kind of just throwing things together and I ended up with something I felt was almost as good as the commercial salsas. My son started asking me to make my salsa instead of bothering to buy it. (My son doesn’t like tomatoes, doesn’t like onions, but likes salsa—go figure!) I find I now dislike the commercial salsas because they taste way too sweet—when I want salsa I want spiciness, not sugar.

I switch the recipe around a little each time I make it, dependent upon exactly what ingredients I have around. I’ll often use canned tomatoes out of convenience, but if I’ve got a couple tomatoes that are starting to get a little overripe I’ll use those. Roma tomatoes can often be found fairly inexpensive compared to the standard tomatoes, so sometimes I’ll use those. For jalapenos I usually will use the jarred variety because it’s more consistent than relying on fresh, but when they start coming in from my garden, it’s fresh all the way.

Ingredients (enough for about 24 ounces)

Cost

1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes (or 2 cups fresh tomatoes) $1.65
1 cup diced red onion (about ½ of a 4 inch diameter onion) $0.44
½ cup diced jalapenos (about 1/3 of a jar) $0.75
¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro $0.15
1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder $0.15
1 ½ teaspoons salt $0.01
1 teaspoon ground black pepper $0.11
1 tablespoon vegetable oil $0.04
1 tablespoon vinegar $0.02

Total Cost

$3.32

This makes about a medium to hot level salsa and the equivalent of around 1 ½ jars of the store bought variety.

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