In Mexico, salsas are infinitely complex, emphatically regional, and inherently complementary to the rest of the country’s myriad dishes—more beloved garnish than entire food group. Which is why purists have always been slightly befuddled by the Tex-Mex custom of dipping fried triangles of masa into the stuff and calling it a meal. But we are proudly unabashed in our enthusiasm for chips and salsa (after all, the Legislature declared the combo Texas’s official state snack in 2003) and will pine for the salsas we have known, be they long-lost family recipes or favorite restaurant concoctions, the ones we can never seem to replicate at home (among my colleagues, it’s a collective wistfulness for the peppery red sauce—and many other things—from Austin’s dear, departed Las Manitas).
Good salsas are works of art, a symbiotic commingling of sweet and spicy and tangy, and they can incorporate everything from fruits and beans to dried chiles and toasted spices. But since it’s summer in Texas, and our farmers’ markets are a’flourish with plump, flavorful tomatoes, nose-tingling green chiles, and bright cilantro, a salsa fresca is in order, as good at adorning a taco as it is helping you polish off a bag of tortilla chips.
Makes about 2 cups.
1 pound ripe tomatoes
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 serrano chile, finely chopped (or to taste)
1/4 cup diced white onion
2 tablespoons roughly chopped cilantro
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
In a food processor, blend the first 3 ingredients into a chunky puree. Stir in the remaining ingredients, season to taste, and serve immediately.