Fiery home made sugar free salsa recipe

I have three stories to tell about this dish. The first of which is that it didn’t contain sugar and it tasted good! When I say good, even my husband, who isn’t usually a fan of my sugar free food liked it (you can read more here about what my husband usually thinks of my food and here for my many posts on the subject of how, why and when I have gone sugar free – one reason being I’ve lost around 2 stone since quitting the sweet stuff). You might be thinking that salsa doesn’t contain sugar normally anyway, so what’s the big deal, but actually I looked at all the tomato salsa products available on a major supermarket online this evening and every single one of them contained sugar.  It is low down the ingredient list which means it is not added in large quantities but it is still there. 
The second story is that I don’t know about you, but I’m not very confident when it comes to chillis.  This time though I decided to throw caution to the wind and use a whole red dried out chilli that had been sitting in our fridge for months. If you are thinking this sounds slightly pathetic, it’s big news for me – I don’t think I’ve ever used a whole chilli in a recipe before. This is partly because I don’t think the kids would like it and partly because I’m usually scared that I will make our food too spicy. Actually though the secret to this salsa tasting good without sugar (for those sugar addicts out there) is the added chilli and garlic (as well as all the other ingredients) which give it all the flavour it needs.
Finally, even without the added sugar there is nothing I could buy in a shop that could even begin to compare to the version I made myself (and I’m not saying I’m a master chef – far from it), the reason this salsa means so much more to me than any other salsa is partly because I made it myself, which is an achievement of it’s own and partly because of the stories behind each ingredient.
I used a recipe from a Mexican cookery book that I have – Mexican Cooking (Foods of the World) that the author calls ‘Country-Style Tomato Salsa’, but to me it is fiery salsa!  She uses more chilli than me and you may well want to as well, but for me it was spicy enough…  I also doubled her recipe, so that I had enough left over to freeze for another day.  This is my version (already doubled) below:
Ingredients

  • 8 medium tomatoes (I bought ours at a local farm shop – as I have set myself a challenge to avoid supermarkets for a variety of reasons, which you can find out more about here)
  • 2 small onions (or one large one) (I used red onions that we picked ours at the end of September at a local (ish) pick your own farm Roundstone Farm and dried and stored them outside in our garden in a cold frame on a load of stones)
  • 4 garlic cloves (my husband grew ours in our garden with bulbs we bought at Seedy Sunday, which is coming up again soon! They were stored in our kitchen having been plaited and hung off a cupboard door – see more here)
  • The original recipe calls for 4 jalapeno chillies  – I actually used 1 dried red chilli – no idea of variety and it was spicy enough for us (my mum gave us a chilli plant which had one green chilli on it, which gradually turned red and then we put it in the fridge for months until it got used up in this recipe. We didn’t have much luck growing chillis last year, but I think now is the time to plant chilli seeds, so we are going to give it another go!)
  • A sprinkling of dried oregano (bought in a local shop which sells herbs in much larger bags than you would find in the supermarket at much cheaper comparative prices – see here how much money I saved on cumin in that shop)
  • A drizzle of cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, (which has come in a dark bottle and has a production/ harvest date as well as expiration date to ensure that you have the real thing – see more here about that).  This came from my local grocers in Southwick Square and is a bit pricey, but worth it as it I know I am using genuine cold pressed olive oil (and supporting a local business). There are other health reasons for us all to avoid processed vegetable oils which you can read more about here
  • 1/2 a teaspoon of salt (I’m not sure I added quite that much and I used freshly ground sea salt left over from my supermarket days.  I use sea salt in preference to table salt, because table salt has added cr*p, whereas sea salt is just salt.)
  • 4 tbps water 
  • Not in the original recipe, but I also added a squeeze of tomato puree (again bought in Southwick Square grocers) and a sprinkling of paprika (bought in the same shop as the oregano).  I added both of these to make the salsa look a bit redder as it was looking quite pale.
Method:

  1. Put the tomatoes in a saucepan of boiling water, bring to the boil and heat for a few minutes or until the skin starts to peel away easily (it helps if you make crosses at the bottom of the tomatoes when testing if the skin will peel)
  2. Peel the tomato skins off.
  3. Chop the tomatoes, onions, garlic and chillis finely
  4. Mix all the ingredients together in a non-reactive saucepan and keep stirring every so often until cooked.  
  5. Optional – blend all the ingredients together (I used a hand held blender)
My husband and kids had tortillas for dinner – corner shop bought and plastic wrapped (tick for sticking to my local shopping challenge, cross for my challenge to eliminate single use plastic in preparation for Plastic Free July) with chicken pieces (reheated from the freezer – left over from a roast chicken we had), homemade salsa (kids didn’t eat this..), homemade yoghurt (see here for method) and chopped up carrots, cucumber and peppers (bought from my local grocers).  I had pretty much the same but I had mine with brown rice instead of tortillas.  I have made tortillas from scratch before, following another recipe in my Mexican cook book, but I need to be a bit organised to do that and I didn’t do it this time round..

If you are reading this thinking that’s all well and good for me having all this hand picked/ home grown/ locally bought stuff, well it is very achievable for you too.  How long does it take to plant a few chilli seeds and water them as they grow? Or to chuck a few garlic cloves in the ground, if you have a garden – not sure if they would work inside (although the way we have done it worked out quite expensive – we need a bit of a rethink on that)? It is a day out for us to take the kids fruit and veg picking and we can do something practical at the same time by picking onions at the end of the season when they are cheap to eat throughout the rest of the year, when they may not be as cheap – I haven’t actually price checked that though (or as long as they last us). You might find that your local shops are more accessible than the supermarkets, with shorter queues and friendlier staff, plus if you find the right shop you could save £££’s on herbs and spices, or failing that why not grow your own herbs?

I am currently undertaking a Year of Eco Challenges . If you have a moment I would really appreciate it if you would consider sponsoring me with an action on my DoNation page. Also if you liked this post please click like on Facebook and follow on Twitter – thanks so much!