Celebrating Salsa!

salsa-soup-cultured-cookI’m a big believer in making your own sauces, dressings, and condiments – they’re usually easy to make, and it’s a lot quicker and cheaper to craft your own blend with ingredients you already have on hand than it is to go out and buy a big bottle/jar of something that’ll take you forever to use.  Then there’s the health aspect, too: commercial sauces, dressings, and condiments are likely to contain lots of sugars (just try finding HFCS-free ketchup!), thickeners, stabilizers, aluminum (pickles and mustards tend to have alum in their ingredient lists), you name it.  Your own blend is likely to contain better-quality ingredients.

There are a few foodstuffs, though, that are far easier and more economical to buy than make (like whole-grain pasta), and there are a few food producers/manufacturers who do such a good job that I don’t even try to beat them at their game – I’d rather buy the delectable fruits of their labor and enjoy them.  One of those is the fresh salsa made by Garden Fresh.  They’re the top-selling salsa in the country for a reason, and a recent article about the owners in Hour Detroit magazine revealed why: the husband-and-wife team are obsessed with creating the ultimate salsa, and they are involved in every aspect of their company, from day-to-day, on-the-floor activities to managing finances and concocting new recipes.  They also recently had the opportunity to sell out to big corporate interests – who probably would have moved production out of Metro Detroit – and they didn’t, instead choosing to walk away from a very lucrative offer to stick with a product they believe in and jobs they love.  Talk about a great local company to support!  What isn’t there to love about these guys?

So, with the exception of Bumper Tomato Season time (when I have tomatoes bulging all over my garden and I’m frantically coming up with tomato-based dishes to make with them), when I want salsa, I head for the nearest Garden Fresh stash.  Luckily for those of us living in Metro Detroit, Garden Fresh is in almost every store.  When I get my salsa home, I enjoy it every which way possible, from eating it plain to using it in lasagna.  Here are a few quick ideas for enjoying one of the tastiest things made in Detroit:

- Put some salsa in a bowl, top it with cubed avocado and perhaps a bit of plain Greek yogurt and shredded cheese, and enjoy it cold (think fresh summer gazpacho!)

- Heat some salsa and shredded cheese over the stove on low heat, then serve with chips as dip

- Instead of adding canned tomatoes to chili, add some salsa

- Use instead of marinara sauce: toss salsa with lasagna noodles, layer with queso fresco or Monterey Jack cheese, and enjoy a Mexican lasagna for dinner

- Blend with a shot of good-quality vodka to make the ultimate Bloody Mary

- Serve over fried or poached eggs as huevos rancheros (to be really authentic, serve eggs over a corn tortilla)

- Make Mexican breadsticks as appetizers: cut some corn tortillas into strips, brush them with extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle them with chili powder, then bake them at 350F for 10 minutes and serve the crispy strips with a side of salsa

- Use salsa as a marinade for chicken or fish

Heck, I like Garden Fresh salsa so much, I’d even consider putting it on ice cream.  If you’ve already done that, let me know how it was!

Courtesy of The Cultured Cook.

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