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Archive for Spreads-Dips-Salsa

TIP OF THE DAY: Salsa Gazpacho & 15 More Uses For Salsa

Salsa  Gazpacho

Shrimp Cocktail With Salsa

Salsa

[1] Salsa-based gazpacho (photo courtesy Knudsen). [2] Shrimp cocktail with salsa; add avocado and lime wedge for a “Mexican shrimp cocktail” (photo courtesy MackenzieLtd.com. [3] Grab your favorite salsa from the shelf and check out the 15 ideas below (photo courtesy Mrs. Renfro’s).

 

If you have more salsa than you need, turn it into a refreshing gazpacho. Or use it in one of the 15 different options below.

While most Americans think of salsa as a snack with tortilla chips, it began as a general sauce for cooked foods in Mexico. Tortilla chips weren’t invented until the 1940s, in Los Angeles (the history of tortilla chips).

There is no one salsa recipe: Every region of Latin America has its own style, with recipes divided between tomato-based red salsas and tomatillo-based green salsas. Within each category are many different salsa styles (see our Salsa Glossary).

You can find dozens of ways to use salsa beyond Tex-Mex. It’s a great pantry item to grab when you need to make—or fix—something, as you’ll see in the list below this salsa recipe.
 
BONUS: ¼ cup of tomato-based salsa counts as a one serving of vegetables!

RECIPE: SALSA GAZPACHO

Ingredients

  • 8-ounce jar mild salsa (or your favorite type—you can even use fruit salsa)
  • 1 cup tomato juice
  • 1 fresh tomato, chopped and seeded
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • Juice of 1 lemon or lime (2-3 tablespoons in a medium lemon, 2 tablespoons in the average lime)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Garnish: small dice cucumber and bell pepper, cilantro leaves or whatever you have*
  • Optional garnish: Greek yogurt or sour cream
  •  
    Preparation

    1. ROLL the room temperature lemon or lime on the counter, pressing down. This will release more juice.

    2. PURÉE the salsa in a blender or food processor. Mix with the other ingredients (except garnishes) in a mixing bowl.

    3. REFRIGERATE for an hour or more, covered, to allow the flavors to meld.

    4. POUR into serving bowls or cups, garnish and serve.
     
    _____________________
    *Use diced avocado, chopped fresh herbs, carrot coins or radish slices, corn kernels…just look in the fridge and the pantry.

     

    MORE USES FOR SALSA

    Salsa is a versatile ingredient. Beyond Tex-Mex cuisine, you can use different types of salsa for even more variety. For example, you can use a sweeter fruit salsa to make omelet toppings/fillings or sauces for grilled meats, even as a garnish for pound cake or sorbet.
     
    Condiment, Dip, Garnish Or Spread

  • Baked potato: Mix with plain yogurt or sour cream for a spicy topping.
  • Bruschetta or crostini: Mexican-style (the difference between bruschetta and crostini).
  • Cracker spread: Top a brick of cream cheese or a log of goat cheese and serve with crackers, toasts, baguette slices, etc.
  • Dip: Mix with ketchup, mayonnaise, plain yogurt or sour cream as a dip for chips, crudités, fries, etc.
  • Grilled cheese sandwich: Instead of tomato slices, use salsa—especially when tomatoes are not in season.
  • Ketchup substitute: From breakfast eggs to lunch burgers to meat loaf and grilled meats, poultry and seafood for dinner, salsa adds some spice.
  • Mac and cheese: Use as a garnish instead of bread crumbs.
  • Queso: Mix with cheese sauce for a queso, a popular Mexican dip and sauce (tip: you can substitute Velveeta—not as elegant but so much quicker).
  • Seafood: Substitute for cocktail sauce with a seafood cocktail; serve as a sauce with cooked fish.
  •  
    Flavor Booster

  • Compound butter: Make compound butter, refrigerate, and have an “instant” sauce for anything, including proteins, rice and other grains, vegetables.
  • Eggs: Stir into scrambled eggs or add to frittatas, omelets and shakshouka (Eggs in Purgatory).
  • Hearty dishes: Perk up casseroles, soups and stews.
  • Marinade: Add salsa to oil and lime juice, and you don’t need extra seasonings. It’s the same for a ceviche marinade.
  • Tomato sauce: Use it on pasta and pizza.
  • Season anything: From deviled eggs to stuffed mushrooms to Bloody Marys.
  •  
    Have other ideas for salsa? Let us know!

     

    Queso Dip With Salsa

    Grilled Cheese Sandwich

    Salsa Burger

    [1] Make a queso dip with salsa and cheese sauce (a quick substitute is Velveeta; photo courtesy El Original | NYC). [2] This {Chicken fajita” grilled cheese adds a layer of salsa, which also works on a plain grilled cheese sandwich. Here’s the recipe from ClosetCooking.com. [2] A salsa-topped burger or cheeseburger hits the spot (photo courtesy Pace).

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Serve A Guacamole Trio

    Guacamole Recipes

    Chunky Guacamole

    Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes

    Top: Serve three different guacamole “flavors” at once (photo courtesy Avocados From Mexico). Center: Chunky guacamole (photo courtesy Calavo Growers). Bottom: Guacamole in cherry tomatoes (photo courtesy FronteraFiesta.com).

     

    So many guacamole recipes, so little time!

    The solution: Make guacamole trios, three different recipes at a time. Here are some favorites of ours:

  • Bacon Cheddar Guacamole Recipe
  • BLT Guacamole Crostini Recipe and Deconstructed Guacamole Crostini
  • Roasted Corn Guacamole Recipe
  • Sour Cream Guacamole Recipe
  • Tomatillo Guacamole Recipe
  •  
    You can also go for the Do-It-Yourself option: a Guacamole Party Bar. With the mashed avocado, lime juice and salt, provide some of the following:

  • Tomato group: tomato, tomatillo, salsa, sundried tomatoes
  • Onion group: chives, onion, green onion/scallion, pickled onions, red onion, shallots
  • Heat: chili flakes, minced chiles, hot sauce
  • Cheese: blue cheese, cotija, queso fresco, grated cheddar (try jalapeño cheddar) or jack
  • Creamy: crème fraîche, sour cream, yogurt
  • Fruit: dried fruits, mango, melon, papaya, pomegranate arils, strawberry
  • Herbs: basil, bell pepper, cayenne, cilantro, garlic cloves, mint, parsley, sage, tarragon
  • Vegetables: asparagus, corn, jicama, radish/daikon
  • Wild card: bacon, crab meat, minced pork or ham, olives, toasted nuts
  • Tomatillo Guacamole Recipe
  •  
    And then, there’s Crocamole, a crodadile-shaped presentation for kids.

    Serve a trio of chips, too: perhaps yellow tortilla chips, blue tortilla chips and pita chips.

     
    Also check out this fusion recipes from California Avocado Growers for Cajun Guacamole, French Guacamole, Greek Guacamole, Italian guacamole, Japanese guacamole.

    There are 21 pages of guacamole recipes on the website, including a Cranberry Guacamole recipe for the holidays.
     
    THE HISTORY OF GUACAMOLE

    Mesoamericans cultivated the wild avocado, a tree fruit that had grown in the region for millions of years. Dating back to Mayan times (pre-Aztec), guacamole was made from avocado, onion, chiles, fresh tomato, and salt, a recipe that is still made today.

    The conquering Aztecs called the avocado ahuacatl. The “tl” is pronounced “tay” in Nahuatl, the Aztec language, hence, ah-hwa-CAH-tay. AhuacamOlli (ah-waka-MOLE-ee) is a compound of ahuacatl [avocado] + mOlli [sauce]. The chocolate-based mole sauce comes from that same word, mOlli.

     
    When the Spanish conquistadors under Hernán Cortés arrived in 1519, they heard ah-hwah-cah-tay as “aguacate,” the spelling and pronounciation they used. In Spanish, ahuacamOlli became guacamole (huac-ah-MOE-lay).

    Guacamole ingredients were mashed in a molcajete (mol-cah-HET-tay), a Mexican pestle carved from volcanic stone (today granite is an easier-to-clean option). Over time, different regions of Mexico mixed in local ingredients, creating countless variations.

    Ahuacatl, avocado, first meant “testicle” in Nahuatl. The Aztecs saw the avocado as resembling testicles and ate them as a sex stimulant.

    According to Linda Stradley on the website WhatsCookingInAmerica.com, for centuries after Europeans came into contact with the avocado, it carried its reputation for inducing sexual prowess. It wasn’t purchased or consumed by any genteel person concerned with his or her reputation.

    American avocado growers had to sponsor a public relations campaign to dispel the myth before avocados could become popular. After then, their dark green, pebbly flesh also earned avocados the polite name, “alligator pear.”
     
      

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    ST. PATRICK’S DAY RECIPES: Irish Spuds & Green Dip With Green Beer

    Green Beer & Fries

    Green Food Color

    St. Pat’s snack: wedge fries, green dip and a green beer. You can color any light-hued food green. Photos courtesy McCormick.

     

    For St. Patrick’s Day you’ll be able to buy green-tinted bagels, beer, donuts, and more; but you can also plan to color your own foods.

    Chocolate chip cookies? Mashed potatoes? Milk? Oatmeal? Pancakes? With a bottle of green food color you can have a blast/

    Here are three recipes from McCormick, maker of that green food color, to add to the collection: Irish Spuds With Green Ranch Dip, Green Beer and Leprechaun Lemonade.

    For St. Patrick’s Day fun, color your food green.

    Here, roasted potato wedges and crudites are dipped in a green-tinted ranch dressing and served with green beer or “Leprechaun Lemonade.”

     
    RECIPE: IRISH SPUDS WITH GREEN RANCH DIP

    Prep time is 10 minutes, cook time is 30 minutes.

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 2 pounds russet* baking potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon dried parsley or other green herb
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup ranch dressing†
  • 1/4 teaspoon green food color (20 to 25 drops)
  • Crudités: 2-3 varieties of raw vegetables
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 450°F. Cut the potatoes into 3-1/2-inch wedges and place them in a large bowl. Add the oil and toss to coat well.

    2. MIX the chili powder, optional parsley and salt. Sprinkle over the potatoes and toss to coat evenly. Arrange the potatoes in a single layer in foil-lined 15x10x1-inch baking pan.

    3. BAKE for 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender and golden brown. While the potatoes are baking, slice the crudités.

    4. MIX the ranch dressing and food color in medium bowl until well blended. Serve it as a dip with the potato wedges and crudités.
    _______________________________
    *Idaho is a brand name for russet potatoes grown in Idaho.
    †If you want to make your own dressing, here’s a ranch dressing recipe.

     
    RECIPE: GREEN BEER

    Ingredients Per 12-Ounce Beer

  • 1 can (12 ounces) light-colored beer (Pale Ale, Pilsner or other Pale Lager, Wheat Beer)
  • 5 to 6 drops green food color
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the food color in a glass. Add the beer and stir gently until evenly tinted.

     

    RECIPE: LEPRECHAUN LEMONADE

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 4 cups lemonade‡
  • 1/2 teaspoon raspberry extract
  • 15 drops green food color
  • Ice cubes
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MIX all ingredients in a pitcher. Pour into ice-filled glasses.
     
    Variations

  • For Strawberry Leprechaun Lemonade, use replace the raspberry extract with strawberry extract.
  • For an adult version, stir in 1/2 cup Limoncello or a clear spirit (cachaça, gin, rum, tequila, vodka); or 1/4 cup of each.
  •  

    Green Lemonade Recipe

    Leprechaun Lemonade can be turned into a cocktail with Limoncello and/or a clear spirit. Photo courtesy McCormick.

     
    __________________________
    ‡Here’s a recipe for homemade lemonade.

      

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    FOOD FUN: Make Beet Yogurt For Your Valentine

    Beet Yogurt - Samin Nosrat

    pita-wedges-thepioneerwoman-ps

    Top: The secret ingredient is popped
    mustard seeds. Photo courtesy Samin
    Nosrat. Bottom: Serve either recipe with
    homemade pita wedges. Photo courtesy
    The Pioneer Woman
    .

     

    Our supermarkets are filled with cooked, packaged, ready-to-eat beets brought in for Valentine’s Day. While we love fresh-roasted beets, they’re the most time-consuming root vegetables to prepare.

    We got the message. We’re using the pre-cooked beets to make Valentine dips and spreads. If you want to roast your own, we salute you.

    This recipe, by California chef and author Samin Nosrat, is adapted from one published on BonAppetit.com (and further adapted by us). We received it from Good Eggs in San Francisco, an outstanding grocery delivery service.

    Good Eggs recommends it as an addition to a composed salad, a spread for a cheese board or a tangy addition to a sandwich. “Once you start stirring popped mustard seeds into your savory cooking, you’ll never stop,” they assure us.

    RECIPE #1: MASHED BEETS WITH MUSTARD SEEDS

    Ingredients For 2 Cups

  • 1 pound red beets (you can use other colors for other occasions)
  • Salt
  • Cooking oil of choice
  • 1 teaspoon brown or yellow mustard seeds
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons whole milk yogurt
  • 1/2 lemon
  •  
    Preparation

    1. HEAT a small pan over medium heat for a minute. Pour in enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan, then add the mustard seeds. Swirl the pan until the mustard seeds begin to pop, cover the pan so the seeds don’t escape, and reduce the heat to low. After about 30 seconds, you’ll hear the popping slow down.

     

    2. REMOVE the pan from the heat and let the seeds cool, uncovered, for a minute or two. Cut the beets into large chunks and place them in the bowl of a food processor, along with the garlic. Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. You can use a potato masher if you prefer it to a food processor: The mashed beets will be a much rougher texture (like hand-mashed potatoes) but still fine for all purposes.

    3. ADD the popped mustard seeds, yogurt, a big squeeze of lemon juice, and some salt. Taste and adjust the seasoning as desired.

     

    RECIPE #2: BEET YOGURT DIP, SPREAD OR TOPPING

    This is the yogurt to whip up for Valentine’s Day. You can make it with any color of beets, but save the orange and yellow for another occasion and use red beets. You can make the recipe a day in advance.

    Use beet yogurt as a dip, a spread, or as a topping—for baked potatoes, cottage cheese, grains, veggies, sandwiches, etc.

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 1 pound beets (about 3 medium)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1-1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt (your choice of 0%, 2% or full fat)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint plus torn leaves for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh tarragon*
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • Crudités: cucumber slices, carrots, anything good for scooping
  •  

    Beet Yogurt Recipe

    A very romantic dish of yogurt. Photo courtesy Good Eggs | San Francisco.

  • Whole wheat pita, cut into triangles and toasted (recipe below, or substitute pita chips)
  • ____________________
    *If you don’t like the licorice notes in tarragon, substitute basil or chervil.
     

    Preparation

    If you want to roast your own beats, follow the first three steps. Otherwise, skip to Step 4.

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 450°F.

    2. SCRUB and trim the beets, but leave the skins on. Place them in a small baking pan or casserole and fill it with 1/2″ hot water. Sprinkle with salt, cover with a piece of parchment paper, and then cover dish tightly with foil.

    3. ROAST the beets until tender, about 1 hour. Remove them from the baking pan and let them cool until they are comfortable to grasp. Then, using a paper towel, rub off the skins.
     
    4. GRATE the beets coarsely with a box grater, Microplane or the grating disc of a food processor. Blend with the yogurt, mint, tarragon, olive oil, and vinegar. Taste and season with salt and vinegar as desired.

    5. COVER and chill the yogurt for 3 hours or overnight for the flavors to meld.
     
    RECIPE: TOASTED PITA WEDGES

    Ingredients

  • Whole wheat pita
  • Olive oil
  • Salt (optional)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CUT each pita round into 6 wedges and place them on a baking sheet. Brush lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt as desired.

    2. BAKE for 5 minutes or until crisp.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Your Own Hummus

    Garnished Hummus

    Hummus With Garnishes

    Hummus Sandwich

    Hummus Flatbread

    Top: Hummus, lightly garnished at Shaya | New Orleans. Second: Hummus with sophisticated garnishing at Shaya. Third: Hummus on a sandwich from EatWellEnjoyLife.com. Bottom: Hummus flatbread with arugula, at The Purple Carrot.

     

    Hummus, a dip and spread made from chickpeas, has been eaten for millennia: Chickpeas and the sesame seeds used to make tahini were among man’s first cultivated crops.

    Hummus has long been served in every Greek and Middle Eastern restaurant in the U.S. But following its endorsement by nutritionists as a healthful snack and better-for-you dip, the once-niche product’s sales have grown dramatically in the U.S., following the trajectory of another food from its neck of the woods, Greek yogurt. Unlike yogurt, hummus is accessible to lactose-intolerant and vegan customers, and is a pareve ingredient for kosher diets.

    Smaller brands like Abraham’s and Yorgo’s have been around for 30 years or more. But Sabra, another modest brand begun 30 years ago, had the good fortune to be purchased by Israeli food giant, Strauss Group, in 2006. Strauss, in turn, sold a 50% interest to Pepsico in 2008.
     
    BEYOND CLASSIC (PLAIN) HUMMUS

    With the best marketing clout of any hummus in the world—from distribution, advertising and promotion to endorsements such as becoming the NFL’s Official Dip [whatever that means]—Sabra had the resources not only to become the top seller in the hummus category, but one of the top healthful snacks and dips in the U.S. It also had the ability to make more consumers seek flavored hummus, an explosive category that is very American.

    Sales of the refrigerated flavored spreads alone, a category dominated by hummus, grew 21% in 2015 to almost $700 million. [Source: IRI]. And oh, the flavors! New ones seem to appear monthly to keep customers interested, often as limited editions which may then become permanent parts of the line.

    Tribe Hummus, our personal favorite, has done an exemplary job of turning hummus into a fun food beyond a plain spread. Consider these flavors:

    Everything (one of our favorites, like an “everything” bagel), Fiery Sriracha, Forty Spices, Garlic, Harvest Carrot, Lemon Rosemary Focaccia, Mediterranean Olive, Mediterranean Style, Spicy Red Pepper, Sweet Roasted Red Peppers, Vine Ripened Tomato & Basil and Zesty Spice & Garlic, among others.

    Tribe’s latest limited edition is Ranch, which provides amazing ranch flavor in what is a dairy-free spread (authentic ranch dressing has a base of buttermilk).

    Other brands have featured beet, cilantro chimichurri, edamame, guacamole, horseradish, kalamata olive, lemongrass chili, pumpkin, sundried tomato, Thai chili and spinach artichoke hummus flavors. The lesson is: If you like a particular flavor, try stirring it into hummus.
     
    IT’S EASY TO MAKE HUMMUS AT HOME

    We can go through an eight-ounce container of hummus in a day. Our friend Jerry teased us, because he has been making hummus in his food processor for 20 years—for a lot less than it costs to buy it.

    We also listened to Steve Sando of RanchoGordo.com, who sells the world’s great heirloom beans and legumes (check out his retail store when you’re in San Francisco or Napa Valley—you’ll buy many pounds’ worth). Canned chickpeas are not even in his vocabulary.

    “You may think I am biased,” says Steve, “but first and foremost, you need to start with good, recent-crop garbanzos. You can use the dusty old bag [of dried chickpeeas] you picked up at the supermarket or you can use ours. They cook quickly, they have a fresh, almost nutty flavor and you don’t need to rinse them the way you must with canned beans.

    “I understand that some people want to soak the beans, others don’t. Some salt up front, some brine, some salt later. Whatever makes you happy and inspires you to make [it] is what works for me—except for one thing: baking soda.

    “Many recipes call for a pinch or more of baking soda to help soften the garbanzos. Only if your beans are old, or if you live in the desert where beans age very quickly, may this be a good idea.”

     
    CANNED VS. DRIED CHICKPEAS

    Canned chickpeas are more convenient to buy and faster to work with. But they are canned in salt and don’t have the same “fresh” flavor as dried chickpeas.

    Dried chickpeas have better flavor and texture, which is especially noticeable in plain (unflavored) hummus.
     
    RECIPE: RANCHO GORDO HOMEMADE HUMMUS

    Fresh garbanzos (chickpeas) make the best-tasting hummus, but if you can’t get them or don’t have the extra time to cook them, default to the best canned brand. Canned chickpeas need to be rinsed to remove the salt solution.

    Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound fresh garbanzos (chickpeas)
  • 1/4 onion, sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 tablespoons tahini
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt, to taste
  • Garnish: extra virgin olive oil
  • Garnish: smoked Spanish paprika
  • Other garnish (see below)
  • Dippers: crudités, toasted pita, pita chips, etc.
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the garbanzos and onion in a large pot, cover by two inches of water and bring to a strong boil for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, add the bay leaf and cook until tender. Add more water, boiled in a tea kettle, if needed.

    2. DRAIN the garbanzos, reserving a quarter cup for garnishing if you want. Add them to a food processor* with the tahini, lemon, garlic and salt; pulse until smooth. Taste and adjust the tahini, lemon and salt to your liking.

    3. TRANSFER the hummus into a shallow bowl and with a chopstick or other tool, draw a swirl pattern on top. Alternatively, use the back of a large spoon to create a large center indentation (see photos above). Gently drizzle your best extra virgin olive oil over the top, letting it flow as it may. Dust with Spanish paprika and/or other garnishes or dot with the reserved, whole garbanzos. Serve with crudités, toasted pita, pita chips, etc.
     
    *Steve prefers to blend his hummus in a deep bowl using an immersion blender.

     
    HUMMUS GARNISHES

    Use whatever you like, in any combination that you like. In addition to the options below, don’t rule out anything else that appeals to you.

  • Citrus zest
  • Minced herbs of choice (flat parsley is terrific here and mint is a revelation, but follow your taste buds)
  • Olives, sliced
  • Pickled vegetables (including jalapeños and peppadews)
  • Pine nuts or pistachios (also try topping with cooked ground lamb and ground flat-leaf parsley)
  • Sauce: chiles in adobo, yogurt sauce, or other that you’d enjoy combining with hummus)
  • Spices of choice: aleppo pepper, red chili flakes or other hot chile; cumin; paprika
  • Whole cooked garbanzos
  •   

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