Old standbys are old standbys because they are good, timeless and/or easy. Here are two basic Salsa recipes to go with your chips and guac. One is pantry friendly: you can pull out the ingredients and whip up a batch any time. And one is fresh: you need to have thought ahead to buy the cilantro, peppers, etc. Both have their place in life. In the Hints section, there are some ideas to elevate the experience.
Basic Pantry Salsa
1 can diced tomatoes
1 small onion (you have one in your pantry, don't you?)
1 clove garlic, smashed (or use garlic salt)
1 small can mild green chilies, diced
1 teaspoon coriander
2 tablespoons diced jalapeno peppers, bottled
1 tablespoon lime juice (or lemon)
1 teaspoon salt
Mix all ingredients in a blender container and whirl for 20 to 30 seconds.
Basic Fresh Salsa
1 small onion
1 red bell pepper
1/2 fresh jalapeno pepper (for mild to medium, add more for hot)
1 clove garlic
2 large or 4 small tomatoes
1 tablespoon lemon juice (or lime)
10 sprigs fresh cilantro
1 to 2 teaspoons kosher salt
Peel and quarter onion. Seed and quarter bell pepper. Seed and quarter jalapeno pepper. Smash and peel garlic. Place these in a food processor bowl and pulse until uniformly chopped, scraping sides of bowl as needed. Add tomatoes, juice, cilantro and salt. Pulse 4 or 5 times just until the tomato and cilantro are chopped.
Hints: Salt really makes the finish. Add more if needed to either recipe. Using dehydrated onion in the Pantry type works alright but you need to let the onions rehydrate in the tomato juice a few minutes before blending. The fresh version can be made in a blender but a food processor works a bit better for even chopping. You can use any type of hot pepper in either recipe or none at all (but that would just be sad). Adjust the heat according to your tolerance for fire mouth. A great addition for pantry salsa is 1/4 cup finely shredded carrot. Heat this salsa in the microwave and top with grated cheddar. Adding toasted corn kernels and/or black beans works well in the Fresh version. Substituting mango or peach for half the fresh tomatoes is fabulous. Charring the peppers before using them adds another dimension to the flavor profile. Adding chili powder, cumin or other spices is totally up to your tastes. Fresh oregano, parsley or rosemary are nice herbs to consider adding.
I have had a love for salsa for most of my life. In high school, Sharalyn and I had contests to see who could hold up under some very hot, hot salsa. We would eat the salsa served at the local Mexican cafe as soup. Bill asked me one time why I like food that hurts and I couldn't explain it to him but I really do. Wasabi and hot mustard? Love 'em! Horseradish and habanero? I'll have some!