A Tale of Two Salsas: Basic Salsa and Rhubarb Salsa

Oh salsa…so quick. So easy. It makes the best of times. (too cliche?)

With just a few ingredients, you can make dip-heaven. Salsa can take any dish up a notch or three.  Tomatoes are just a starting point for basic salsa. Later in this post, I’ll let you in on some secrets on how to use seasonal produce to make different types of salsa.  Basically, I’m going to change your life.

Yes, it is true.  I love to dip things. I often choose a meal based on its “dipability”.  Don’t judge! It’s one of my oddities….Ok many oddities, but people…it’s a party at every meal!!! And having a great basic salsa recipe is key for anyone to have tucked up their sleeve to pull out for impromptu events.

Because this was my week to host for the Food Matters Project and because of my love for all things dip-able, I chose the easy fresh salsa recipe from Mark Bittman’s the Food Matters Cookbook.  Paaaahrtay!  If you have never made fresh salsa, you are doing it today (or as soon as you can). Ya, I know you may have other crap planned, but guess what….salsa calls….”make me”.  And it’s easy. Dip it or throw it on tacos, or a salad, or on a spoon. Fresh salsa is perfect party food (for my solo party) or perfect to bring along for such occasions as Cinco de Mayo or you can bring it to my house for me to dip!

Garden tomatoes make the best salsa. But even when tomatoes are out of season, you can use canned tomatoes, which is what I did. Mark Bittman’s basic salsa is technically pico de gallo.  I chose to puree the salsa since I used canned tomatoes and because I like the smooth consistency. However, you can leave it chunky, if you prefer.

So let’s break it down. Really there are a few base ingredients that go into making salsa.

Onions + jalapeño + cilantro + lime juice (or any acidic juice really…vinegar works well too).

From this basic formula, you can add several ingredients to make fresh salsa.  Tomatoes are the basic salsa, of course. It will keep for up to a week in the fridge. But I doubt it will even linger that long. I used this salsa on top of eggs, on top of a spinach mushroom quesadilla (so dippable), and with homemade tortilla chips.

But, if you are feeling adventurous, there are other ingredients that you can add to salsa besides tomatoes….. such as seasonal fruit, black beans, or corn.

With spring in full force, RHUBARB has finally flooded the farmers market!!!!  To take full advantage of rhubarb at its peak, I decided to also try to make a rhubarb salsa.  I know, I know, I know…what about rhubarb pie, rhubarb tart?  Just trust me and branch out from the sweet desserts. Rhubarb salsa beckons you. I was so impressed with the outcome. Using the basic salsa recipe as a starting point, I replaced the tomatoes with rhubarb and sweet bell pepper, and then added a tad bit of honey mixed with apple cider vinegar and lime juice. The tartness in the rhubarb salsa is balanced by the sweet honey and complimented by the spicy kick from the jalapeño.

I ate this on fish tacos (so devine and sorry no pictures….they disappeared in my mouth). I also topped my fresh spring salad with it. Heavenly.

In summer, swap out tomatoes for peaches or mangos. In the fall, use granny smith or any other tart variety of apples. You can also swap orange or lemon juice for the lime juice.  Seriously, the options are endless when making salsa. After you make these salsa recipes, you are going to be in deep smit with them. You are welcome.

Don’t forget to check out the other FMP bloggers creations!

Basic Salsa (from the Food Matters Cookbook by Mark Bittman)

  • 1 1/2 cups of tomatoes (or 1 15 oz canned tomatoes, undrained)
  • 1/2 white or red onion
  • 1 jalapeño, seeds removed and diced
  • 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of cilantro, diced
  • 2 tablespoons of lime juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions for Basic Salsa
  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Puree until well combined.
  2. Taste and add salt/pepper. Chill covered for at least 30 minutes.
Rhubarb Salsa 
  • 1 stalk of rhubarb (1 to 1 1/2 cups), diced
  • 1/4 cup of sweet bell pepper, diced
  • 2 tablespoons of diced white or red onion
  • 2 tablespoons of diced scallions
  • 1 jalapeño, seeds removed and diced
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of cilantro, diced
  • 1 tablespoon of lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons of honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • pepper to taste
Instructions for Rhubarb Salsa
  1. Heat 2 cups of water in a saucepan to boiling. Blanch rhubarb by placing in the boiling water for 10 to 20 seconds. Quickly remove the rhubarb and place in a colander. Run cold water over the rhubarb to stop the cooking process. Blot the rhubarb with a paper towel to dry.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the bell pepper, onion, scallions, jalapeño, and cilantro. Add rhubarb and mix ingredients.
  3. In a small separate bowl, dissolve the honey in the lime juice and apple cider vinegar. Drizzle this dressing over the rhubarb salsa and stir. Add the salt and pepper. Mix well.
  4. Chill for at least 30 minutes.

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32 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Salsas: Basic Salsa and Rhubarb Salsa

  1. Lena May 7, 2012 at 5:59 am Reply

    I made a salsa with what I had on hand and it turned out really great. Thanks for choosing this recipe, I had a great lunch today!


  2. […] this week is Five Quick Salsas for Chips, Dips, and Other Stuff. Head over to Alissa’s blog Big Eats Tiny Kitchen to see the original recipe. You can also see all the variations […]


  3. Watermelon Salsa – May 7, 2012 at 9:45 am Reply

    […] to Alissa of BIG EATS tiny kitchen for choosing this weeks challenge! I’m sure there are also many other seemingly weird yet […]


  4. Nicole @The Giving Table May 7, 2012 at 11:51 am Reply

    I love your pureed version! I made a classic pico de gallo, but next time I want to stick it in the blender. Great pick this week, and perfect timing for Cinco de Mayo over the weekend!


    • Alissa May 7, 2012 at 11:56 am Reply

      I’m so glad you liked it. I love a good chunky pico.


  5. […] quick salsas for chips, dips, and other stuff. You’ll find Bittman’s original recipe in Alissa’s post. If you want some salsa inspiration, check out FMP members’ […]


  6. […] de Mayo, but I’ll happily agree to Mexican food and margaritas any day of the year! Alissa of Big Eats Tiny Kitchen, who I am glad to call a real-life friend, picked out a versatile salsa recipe for this […]


  7. auracaplett May 7, 2012 at 4:48 pm Reply

    Your photos look great! I love the rhubarb salsa idea! I just picked tons of rhubarb yesterday–will give it a try!


    • Alissa May 7, 2012 at 9:03 pm Reply

      Yay! Let me know what you think. I hope you enjoy it!


  8. Margarita May 7, 2012 at 5:05 pm Reply

    Alissa, thanks so much for picking something fun, delicious, and versatile. I like your rhubarb take! Very creative.


  9. MireyaMerritt@hotmail.com May 7, 2012 at 5:07 pm Reply

    Alissa, you think you win it this week for creativity. Rubarb salsa? I’m having a hard time tasting it—I should just go over to your place and try it.


    • Alissa May 7, 2012 at 9:05 pm Reply

      hahah. Come on over! I’m serious…it is DEEEElicious.


  10. Mireya Merritt May 7, 2012 at 5:10 pm Reply

    Alissa, you think you win it this week for creativity. Rubarb salsa? I’m having a hard time tasting it—I should just go over to your place and try it.


  11. fifthfloorkitchen May 7, 2012 at 5:46 pm Reply

    I like the idea of rhubarb salsa- yum! We are just getting it here, so after we finish the pie (which my fiance is making right now) rhubarb salsa is next! Great recipe, and an amazing pick from Mark Bittman’s book!


    • Alissa May 7, 2012 at 9:06 pm Reply

      I love rhubarb pie. I have some extra spears that I might have to throw into a tart or maybe some muffins. Mmmm.


  12. Lexi May 7, 2012 at 6:16 pm Reply

    Thanks for a great pick! I love the rhubarb salsa idea.


  13. […] Alissa chose this week’s Food Matter’s Project recipe and it is one everyone needs in their recipe arsenal. Head over to her blog BIG EATS tiny kitchen to hear all about the basic ingredients of a salsa. You can really go anywhere you want with the ingredients after you begin with the 5 basic needed for salsa, which is a great way to trigger your creativity in the kitchen if you are learning to cook. […]


  14. […] cream adapted from annie’s eats.  corn salsa recipe from the food matters cookbook.  visit BIG EATS…tiny kitchen for the original recipe & as always head over to the food matters project to see the endless […]


  15. EverydayMaven May 7, 2012 at 11:58 pm Reply

    Great choice Alissa! I love to use salsa as my salad dressing as well :)


  16. cheesepleasebyjess May 8, 2012 at 8:26 am Reply

    What a great idea! I have some rhubarb in the fridge waiting for me… I’m a rhubarb virgin!! I might have to try this out :)


    • Alissa May 8, 2012 at 4:20 pm Reply

      Oh honey! I would definitely make something sweet and something savory with your first experience of rhubarb. Nothing beats a good rhubarb crisp.


      • auracaplett May 8, 2012 at 10:15 pm

        Something sweet is a must during rhubarb season! I am making this tomorrow:


      • cheesepleasebyjess May 9, 2012 at 9:16 am

        You’re probably right, I got excited though because this looked much healthier than all the pie recipes I’ve seen :) Aura, That buckle recipe looks great!


  17. Kate May 8, 2012 at 9:56 pm Reply

    I’m so glad you chose salsa, Alissa! I would have been happy eating carrot cake, too, but it was a little too hot to turn on the oven this weekend! I’m so inspired by all the members’ variations. Btw, I’m coming to town this weekend and hope to see you two while I’m there!!!


    • Alissa May 9, 2012 at 10:35 am Reply

      Thanks. Yay! Your tostadas looked so delicious. We will definitely rendezvous this weekend!


  18. […] Rhubarb salsa (also find basic salsa) by this week’s host, Alissa of Big Eats Tiny Kitchen. […]


  19. […] Alissa chose this week’s recipe for salsa. For the actual recipes provided by Mr. Bittman in his Food Matters Cookbook, head over to her blog, BIG EATS … tiny kitchen. For lots more salsa inspiration, head over to The Food Matters website. There are 25+ variations from the other FMP bloggers and they all sound incredible. […]


  20. foodandfrederick May 9, 2012 at 9:03 am Reply

    Love your rhubarb salsa!! I finally got my hands on some last weekend at the farmer’s market as well as some strawberries and used both in some salsa. Great choice of recipe, we’re all going to be making a lot of salsa ;-)


  21. Sara May 9, 2012 at 8:36 pm Reply

    The rhubarb salsa: I am intrigued! It’s a great way to use up one random extra stalk too!


  22. […] salsa or pico de gallo Instructions […]


  23. The Food Matters Project: Spring Salsa November 2, 2012 at 2:49 pm Reply

    […] Alissa chose this week’s recipe for salsa. For the actual recipes provided by Mr. Bittman in his Food Matters Cookbook, head over to her blog, BIG EATS … tiny kitchen. For lots more salsa inspiration, head over to The Food Matters website. There are 25+ variations from the other FMP bloggers and they all sound incredible. […]


  24. […] how can you not have a salsa bar???  The Rhubarb Salsa is amazing and the Basic Salsa is one of my […]


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