This fresh homemade restaurant style salsa recipe is packed with ripe tomatoes, spicy jalapenos, garlic, onions and cumin for an irresistible appetizer.
There’s nothing more irresistible than a basket of golden crispy fried tortilla chips and ruby red spicy salsa. This girl cannot just stop at a couple of crunchy bites, no way, it’s almost like eating the first chip makes every next scoop even more addicting, am I right?
Whenever we get a chance for a date night, we head to our favorite local Mexican restaurant Javier’s. My eyes get real big, and my mouth starts watering when the waiter places some freshly fried bowl of tortilla chips and fire roasted salsa on the table. It’s almost a race for who’s going to dive in first.
Restaurant style salsa is out of this world, and with Cinco de Mayo just days away, I was on a mission to make the quickest and easiest homemade salsa. Keep reading to see how this yummy journey turned out…
Oh, salsa, you look so simple, but you got so much going on! A little flavor reverse engineering was in order, so I had to imagine all the amazing qualities of our favorite restaurant salsa.
When I was making this salsa recipe, I tried to think of what flavors would give me the right balance of fresh, roasted, spicy, tangy and earthy. I couldn’t wait to put all of these fresh and tasty ingredients together using my trusty Vitamix blender. The salsa was ready within minutes, and my taste buds were ready for a fiesta!
Of course, a good salsa starts with some delicious ripe tomatoes. I used fresh Roma tomatoes for texture, leaving the skin and seeds and canned whole plum tomatoes for sweetness and extra flavor. Boy, it was a good idea! I didn’t use the juice from the canned tomatoes, just added them whole, seeds and all to the blender.
I found that there was plenty of juice naturally from the flesh of the tomatoes, plus adding some fresh lemon and lime juice gave me the consistency I wanted. For the heat, I used some canned fire roasted diced green chiles, which adds an entirely different dimension of smoky flavor to the salsa.
I’m a little shy when it comes to spicy foods, typically not being brave enough to add the seeds and white membrane of the jalapeño. With a little encouragement from the hubby and cousin Melissa (they helped me taste test), I got over my fear and added two WHOLE fresh jalapeños to the salsa, go girl!
It gave a nice lingering kick, and I could have even added some more, hehe. To add some earthy flavors, fresh garlic, red onion, cumin, cilantro and, of course, some kosher salt brought the salsa together, whoot!
The best thing about salsa is that it’s totally customizable. I would taste as you go, if you like it spicer, more tangy, salty, don’t hold back. I would caution though that if you are using a blender or food processor, the tomatoes will break down pretty quickly, so start a bit chunkier so you can adjust the thickness later.
For this homemade restaurant style salsa recipe, I targeted a more pureed salsa cut into smaller and smoother pieces, so I can get even more flavor from each ingredient with each blissful bite. This salsa is even tastier the next day, and the good news is you get a good sized batch so you can have more to munch on. If you’re into it, I’d recommend an ice cold Cerveza or margarita to go with it!
What makes hot chili peppers so spicy?
Chili peppers may be small in size, but they sure pack a mighty spicy kick! This salsa recipe uses those beautiful green fleshed jalapeño peppers, and like all hot peppers they contain a compound called capsaicin. Measured in Scoville Units, a Jalapeno has a heat level at about 2,500 to 8,000 Scovilles (pure capsaicin is 15-16,000,000 Scovilles, HOT!). Capsaicin itself is tasteless and odorless and is produced by the glands in the chile pepper’s placenta, found at the top portion of the pepper below the stem. You can remove the inner membranes and seeds to reduce the heat, but keep them in for a stronger kick! If you can, wear gloves when working with peppers and wash your hands thoroughly as the spice can soak into your skin and burn. Make sure you don’t rub those eyes!
- 13 ounces roma tomatoes , fresh ripe, cut in half (about 3 tomatoes)
- 28 ounces whole peeled tomatoes , drained, (1 can)
- 2 jalapeños , just skin or add the entire chili with stem removed for more heat
- 4 ounces green chilies , fire roasted
- 2 cloves garlic , chopped
- 1/3 cup red onion , chopped
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice , fresh
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 teaspoon cumin , ground
- 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1/3 cup cilantro leaves , fresh
- Add fresh tomatoes and canned whole tomatoes (no juice) to the blender. Chop for 10 to 15 seconds, just to break the tomatoes down slightly, but leave very chunky.
- Add the jalapeños, chilies, garlic, red onion, lemon and lime juice, cumin, salt, garlic salt, and cilantro leaves to the blended tomatoes. Blend until texture is as smooth or chunky as desired. This will happen very quickly.
- Season salsa as needed to your liking.
- Serve immediately or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate. The salsa can last up to 2 days refrigerated.