I’m no world traveler, but I understand different versions of this salsa are served all over South America. It can be fiery hot or mild as you choose. It can be chopped or blended or mashed with a mortar and pestle. I’ve also seen a lot of variation in the ingredients, but all of them contained a touch of vinegar.
I’m not going for authentic here so much – I just want delicious, so with a bit of tinkering, this is my version. Of course, this salsa would be normally made with the small red/yellow peppers known as Aji which aren’t available in my area. The first recipe I found didn’t contain any Aji at all – it only used Habanero, so that is my substitute (plus I had one in my fridge – guess that jerk chicken will have to wait!) If you have the Aji peppers, use them.
With the olive oil and the vinegar, this really reads more “salad” to me then “salsa” and I served it generously, roughly chopped as a side. If I want to use it as a dip for chips, I just pulse it all in my food processor. I love this sweet/sour flavor with just a touch of heat.
“Aji” Salsa: Makes about 3 1/2 cups, serving size 1/4 cup
- 1 Habanero chile pepper, seeded and minced
- 1/4 cup chopped red pepper
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup vinegar
- Juice of 1 lime (or lemon)
- 1 teaspoons salt
- 1-2 teaspoons sugar
- 3 tomatoes, seeded and chopped and drained (they can be blanched and skinned)
- 1/3 cup cilantro, minced (optional)
- 3 green onions, white and green parts, chopped
- 1/4 cup onion, finely chopped (I liked red onion best)
- Black pepper to taste
Place the peppers in a food processor or blender with the vinegar, lime juice, salt and sugar and olive oil. Process until nearly smooth.
Add the chopped tomatoes, chopped onion, green onions and cilantro to a bowl, drizzle with the pepper blend. Taste for seasoning and add more salt/sugar/black pepper as needed. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.
Note: When made with a whole Habanero, this burned the tip of my tongue and left a little burn in the back of my throat. I tried it the next time with just a half and thought it was perfect – just a little spicy, giving the vinegar and tomatoes a chance to shine. Of course, if you love heat, use more!
Money & Time Saving Strategies
For pricing, remember to use your coupon matching sites for your local stores. My favorite is Pocket Your Dollars in my area, but every store has a group of enthusiastic couponers who can point you to the best bargains. Don’t be discouraged if your prices are higher at first – just keep shopping the best sales and follow the strategies and you’ll get there! Check under Saving on Basic Ingredients for more detailed information and storage hints – use <control f> to search each page to bring you to the item you want to check out.
The cost varies depending on seasonality and sales – look for your tomatoes around 99 cents a pound (less if you’re lucky) and buy your peppers on sale. Red peppers go on sale all the time during the summer. I’m a little short on time right now, or I’d detail out the ingredients, but I’m estimating this salsa ran about $2.00.
Nutrition: cal 78; cat from fat: 60, 77%; tot fat 6/9g; sat fat .95g; chol 0mg’ sod 295mg; tot carb 4.4g; fib 1.03g; sug 2.11g; prot .72g
Put Your own Spin on It:
By all means, don’t be bound by tradition – feel free to put what you like in this salsa and make it your own.
Recipe made July 2012