I'm interested in making a fresh salsa over the winter break. It can't be too spicy; it shouldn't make my husband's nose run, but it can have a kick. My inclination is to throw a bunch of stuff in the blender, but I thought I'd ask the experts.
If you're using a food processor, process the ingredients you want in a fine paste first (onions, chiles, salt etc), then take them out and combine with the other ingredients by hand. You can have different textures in your salsa rather than having everything chunky or smooth.
I make both authentic and "americanized" salsas. Make what you want and enjoy the results.
Fruit salsa of some sort might work for you. There are a jillion recipes, but I tend to chop up whatever fruits I have (except berries and bananas), add some chopped red onion and perhaps some fresh cilantro. Refreshing and nice in any season.
For tomato-based salsas, I agree with CookingGirl and wouldn't puree salsa in the blender, but rather hand-chop finely. But then, I prefer pico de gallo-style rather than blended ketchup-consistence salsas anyway.
Most of the recipes posted are too Americanized and have too many ingredients. Here is a very simple and delicious Mexican Salsa recipe. It goes great with Huevos Ranchero's or for just about anything.
Salsa Mexicana (seared):
6 roma tomato's drained, seeded, and quartered
1/2 small onion quartered
salt to taste
3 serrano chilies (leave the seeds in) with stem removed
3-4 tablespoons of canola or corn oil
Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until desired chunkiness. Taste for salt, heat, onion, etc.
In a medium pot heat oil until slightly smoking and add blended mixture and cook on high for 8-10 minutes stirring occasionally. Sprinke some chopped cilantro on top if desired. Serve hot, cold, or at room temperature over guacamole, nachos, eggs, etc. Delicious!
for salsa, i like using canned tomatoes - the kind with green peppers, onions, and garlic(?)...i add garlic, lime juice, cilantro, jalepeno, onion, a dash of salt, and a pinch of sugar...
for pico de gallo, i chop fresh roma tomatoes, garlic, cilantro, jalepeno, onion and add lime juice and salt.
Try making salsa without tomatoes some time, its better than you think, and according to one Mexican friend of mine, more authentic to some regions.
I usually have great results literally just throwing a nice combination of peppers in a food processor and blending them together. Add just a little water and lime juice till you get the consistency you like - this is obviously not a chunky salsa. Cilantro is optional and very hot chiles are optional.
My wife is similar to your husband in her love for a little kick but nothing that will require a big glass of milk. Heres that last recipe I used:
1 yellow bell pepper
1 orange bell pepper
1 or 2 pabalno chilis (depending on how big they are)
2 anaheim chilis (leave some seeds in if you want more heat)
1 or 2 jalepeno's (same here - depends on your heat desire)
2 cloves garlic
1/4 of a red onion (or any kind of onion really)
juice of 1/2 lime
You may want to scorch & peal the larger peppers. Or you could grill or fully roast them for a different flavor. This is not an exact recipe. If you're worried about the color, use similar colored ingredients - like if you want a redish salsa use mostly red colored chilis. Sometimes a wierd mixture will lead to a dark or purplish color. Still tastes good, but can look interesting. You can use any chili you want. I've made very good salsas that had 6 or 7 varieties in the same batch.
Good luck and have fun.
Here's my Roasted Poblano Toamtillo Salsa:
Wash and pat dry 4 large chiles poblanos (Somethimes erroneously sold as Chiles Pasillas in US supermarkets. I am referring to fresh, not dried, dark green, large broad-shouldered chiles)
You may add a Jalapeño or 2 Serrano chiles if you wish increased heat.
Peel 2 pounds of tomatillos. Rinse, pat dry.
Remove peels from 4 very small onions.
Peel 4 cloves of garlic.
Heat oven to 425 degrees.
Place veg ingredients in a lightly oiled roasting pan that has sides.
Sprinkle vegs with coarse salt.
Roast 15 minutes or so, or until vegetables start to soften and color.
Remove, cool. Seed and stem chiles.
Cut up into manageable chunks, the process in a food processor to a rough texture. Add salt, washed and patted dry cilantro leaves, and fresh lime juice or a mild vinegar, to taste. Check salt.
There is a reason salsas seem difficult... so many people, restaurants, bottled products screw them up because they don't understand them.
It really kills me when people have never made a salsa before, and already they want to make changes. I am particularly floored by the people that think adding cumin to anything makes it more Mexican. I am pretty sure the Chipotle with Lime in this recipe will not result smokey at all and will destroy the tomatoe & jalapeno.
Please learn the basics then start innovating. In the case of Pei's recipe that is for a Salsa Fresca which you can make several decent variations of:
> Chopped its called Pico de Gallo
> Blended its called Salsa Mexicana
Try blending part of it, and chopping other parts of it. I find the best results when you create 3 or 4 seperate textures then fold them together.
Other variations can be experimenting with Pickled Jalapenos and the pickling juice.
To incoroporate Chipotle, you generally need to roast the tomatoes & not include lime juice etc.,
There are about 50 basic, time tested classic salsas... master them all then you will be in a good position to innovate. Remember wax on, wax off.
There are thousands of variations on salsa, but a basic one is:
fresh red tomatoes
onions (I like white or red)
lime juice (not lemon!)
jalepeno (in your case, probably just half of one, with no seeds)
Chop everything finely, or throw in the blender if you want a liquid form. You can add more or less of anything you want, but I would say 3 tomatoes, half an onion, half a lime and half a bunch of cilantro is enough for two people for one sitting.
For some reason, people think salsa is very complicated. I always serve this, and I always get "Oh my gosh, you maaade this?"