February 12, 2008

Salsa Review

I have been on a very long quest to find the perfect salsa. I am looking for something that tastes as good as the salsa you get in the restaurants, which is apparently impossible. This is how I end up with several open, icky jars of salsa in my fridge. So, in the interest of saving you money and fridge space, I am going to spend several articles reveiwing five salsas at a time (because I started trying to do them all, and I can't finish it tonight--there are far too many). Feel free to suggest a salsa you enjoy in the comments.

Red Barn Garlic Salsa. This lives up to its name. It has a lot of garlic in it. This is fine if you are not planning to go anywhere and don't really want to taste your salsa. Or if you happen to need to slay a vampire. Otherwise, mistake. The flavor isn't all that bad, it's just really, really overpowering. I can't find a website for them, so they must be local, but they didn't have a medium variety. If they do get a medium variety, I am going to be all over trying that. Sans extra garlic, of course.

On the Border Salsa, medium. While their chips rock, their salsa has very few vegetables is mostly flavored with black pepper, which is not my idea of a good time. It's more like a hot sauce and less like a salsa, in my opinion. Buy their chips; they're awesome. You can get a jumbo bag for fairly cheap, comparatively, and they taste like restaurant chips.

Pace Pico de Gallo. This is part of Pace's new line of salsa. It tastes weird. I don't know what's wrong with it, other than it does not taste like Pico de Gaillo. It tastes like Pace with more chopped tomatoes and onions in it.

Pace Salsa Verde. This is also new and not very good. I guess it has lime in it, but they seem to have overdone it. I could overlook that if the color and texture didn't gross me out. It's just a little too weird a shade of green. Don't waste your money.

Santa Fe Packing Co., medium. This is, in fact, my FAVORITE salsa to date. First, it is cheap, ringing in at under $2 a jar. Second, it is very close to restaurant style. They could chop it a little finer, but so far, this is my favorite. Buy it; it's yummy!

So there you have my first installment of five salsas. To review, Santa Fe Packing Co. has the best salsa so far. Red Barn could be good if you can find something with a little less garlic; Pace is 0 and 2 on their new line of salsas, and On the Border should stick to chips.

Share any good or aweful salsa finds in the comments and enjoy!

Posted by LoWriter at February 12, 2008 11:30 PM

My favorite salsa is Sweet Onion that is only available at Aldi, http://www.aldifoods.com. It is very good, but it is not spicy at all.

Posted by: Ben at February 13, 2008 12:38 AM

I am lame and make my own if I want good.. its actually not that hard, especially if you have a food processor. Often the hardest part is finding good tomatoes... particularly in February. Roma are pretty much your only option at this point. Anyway, its pretty much just a matter of about a pound of tomatoes, diced, 1 jalepeno (amount of core/seeds removed will determine heat level), maybe a 1/4 cup of chopped cilantro, a medium red onion, diced (if you don't like onions, use less or think about using a shallot instead), and maybe the juice of 1 lime (freshly squeezed would be best here), and an appropriate amount of salt (maybe a teaspoon or so.. start with half, taste, and keep adding until its right). You could add some blanched or roasted corn for a little extra tastiness, maybe some black beans if you've got a pot of them around... but that's all that it really takes. One thing I've found is that its a good idea to chop the tomatoes first, and as you're doing it put them in a colander. While you're chopping the rest of the ingredients the tomatoes will lose a lot of liquid. This avoids a soupy mess - once the salt hits the veggies it pulls a lot of liquid out and this technique minimizes that. If you use a food processor take a 15 minute break before you put the ingredients together to give the tomatoes some time to drain. Add salt to the tomatoes to speed it up if you want.

Posted by: David Schlenk at February 13, 2008 08:15 AM

i'm a purist when it comes to salsa... not sure why... my fave restaurant salsa is at this great family restaurant in lakeview (which i can definitely take any visitors to - hint hint) and it's fo-sho got fresh ingredients, is well-blended and medium spicy.

when i go for salsa at home, i usually stick to Whole Foods' pico de gallo. it's got a great mix of tomatoes, onions, cilantro and jalapeno. if i feel sweet, i go for their mango salsa (which is soooo amazing!!!).

Posted by: dr gonzo at February 13, 2008 10:20 AM

No a real big salsa fan, so I don't have any suggestions on where to find the best kind. But I look forward to reading your salsa reviews!

Posted by: 10lees at February 13, 2008 09:16 PM

I'm not usually a fan of restaurant salsa, to tell the truth. I like store bought salsa better most of the time because you can get really good chunky salsa. Yum! I like lots of flavor and don't like thin salsa (you know, when it seems more like a sauce). My standard at the moment is Paul Newman's Own Medium Chunky Salsa. It's called something like that. Whatever. It's the Paul Newman brand and it's delicious. Also, if you like a good sweet salsa (which has a time and a place, but is never going to be as good as a pure salsa) try the pineapple or peach salsa varieties on some grilled chicken. YUM!

Posted by: mel at February 14, 2008 03:35 PM

Nitewach: Sweet onion has a time and a place, but as you say, it is not very spicy, and I think we all know I like it hot. (Oh, yes she did go there!) ;)

David Schlenk: Thanks for the receipe. Me and Ben will have to give that a try!

Dr. G: I like your hints. Ben and I will have to visit you soon. Or just me. However it goes down. I may try Whole Foods, actually. I tried Cub's mango salsa, and again, there is a time and a place, but most often I like slightly spicey.

10lees: That is a shame Everybody should like salsa. "And do you know why? Because people like to say salsa!"

Mel: That is only fair. I like to put chunky salsa over minute rice. It's kind of a delightful "noon on Saturday, I have to rush meal." Sometimes, I throw a little cheese on top. It's also what I used to eat for supper a lot when I was working two and a half jobs. It's sort of a poor, lazy man's Spanish rice. I do enjoy Newman's Own pineapple, and I will probably review that soon, along with Mrs. Renfro's.

Stay tuned, folks. :) I might even throw in my salsa dip receipe. (It's really hard. You open a bunch of cans and spread the contents in layers on a large pan. And add chips. That's the very important and complicated part.)

Posted by: Lo at February 17, 2008 11:56 AM
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