My favorite salsa

I make this salsa all the time, but especially in the warmer months.  I've made it for summer weekends away at my family’s camp, potluck get-togethers, Fourth of July, barbecues, tailgates, and… Cinco de Mayo, which is only three days away (but can’t come soon enough)!

It’s sort of more like pico de gallo than traditional salsa in that it's chunky, rustic, and full of onions and cilantro. It is packed with flavor while still being mild enough to serve to just about anyone. And if I'm being honest—I never really measure anything when I make this salsa, but I have found that it doesn't matter as long as I follow a few crucial rules:

  1. Use fresh ingredients

  2. Don’t skimp on the best flavor enhancing elements: lime juice and salt

  3. Taste-test

However, in the spirit of ease and convenience, I spent some time nailing down what I found to be the perfect ratios so that I could present a pretty near-perfect recipe. To me, bad salsa is bland salsa, so that’s what you should always avoid. Therefore, this recipe should be seen as rough guidelines—and if you taste your finished product and it needs more salt or more pepper or more lime juice or more heat—adjust accordingly! You can’t really mess it up because you can taste-test along the way and as many times as you want.

Another tip that helps with this recipe is to let it sit in the fridge to allow the flavors to really develop for at least a couple of hours (up to a day) before serving it. And that just means it’s another make-ahead recipe, and those are my favorite kind.

My favorite salsa

Yields about 5 cups  
8 roma tomatoes, diced or roughly chopped
1 cup diced sweet onion (about ½ onion)
1 cup diced red bell pepper (about 1 pepper)
15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
½-1 jalapeño pepper, depending on heat (taste it first!), very finely chopped
1 cup chopped cilantro
3-4 T lime juice, depending on taste (this is about 4-6 limes)
¼ cup white vinegar
5-6 dashes of jalapeño tabasco sauce, or more for a spicier salsa
1 tsp salt, to start (add more to taste)
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Combine the first six ingredients in a large glass bowl. Combine the lime juice, vinegar, and tabasco sauce in another smaller bowl. Then pour the dressing over the salsa and fold to combine. Make sure to incorporate well. Sprinkle in the salt and pepper to taste. Try a couple spoonfuls or chip-fuls and adjust accordingly—you’re looking for desired limey-ness, saltiness, and spiciness. Cover and let chill in the fridge for a couple of hours. Take it out before you’re ready to serve it, give it a quick stir, and try it again! The flavors will have developed a lot more, so I like to taste-test it again just before serving to make any last minute adjustments. Serve it in a big bowl for ease of scooping, and serve alongside your favorite chips.