Friday, February 1, 2008

A Tale of Two Tomato Salsas (The Super Bowl is Nigh)

With my bud D’s Super Bowl party a mere two days away, I thought yesterday would be a good time to prep my second contribution to the buffet table. (The first being Lightened Seven-Layer Taco Dip). Since salsa is simple to make, healthy by design, and beloved by all, it was a logical choice. Problem was, the produce at my local supermarket was looking less than stellar. So, I turned to canned tomatoes. And All Recipe.

Fresh Salsa 1 was the proud recipient of a 4-1/2 star rating and multiple rave reviews on the site, many of which mentioned its high heat level. Knowing that some friends would find super-spicy food inedible, I had to make a second batch with a few changes. It became kind of a contest. Whose version would taste better? Which would produce more salsa? Could I handle three pounds of tomatoes without spilling any on The Boyfriend’s Transformers t-shirt? (Answer: only Optimus Prime knows for sure.)

Thus, Salsa-off 2008 was born. I made the All Recipes formula exactly like the directions told me. Then, I tasted it and changed the following for my version:
  • Drained the whole peeled tomatoes for a chunkier consistency.
  • Decreased the onion and jalapeno for a milder heat.
  • Sautéed the garlic in a bit of olive oil to add depth.
  • Added a teaspoon of lime juice for freshness.
I sampled both salsas immediately after pureeing and then again about three hours later, after they had time to meld in the fridge. The results were good all around, but let’s compare.

Taste: I liked mine better. (Not that I’m biased.) While appetizing and definitely worth serving, the All Recipes salsa was very, very hot – too hot almost, and I’m fairly accustomed to spicy food. My milder version had a stronger, smoother garlic flavor, which I could actually detect since it wasn’t overwhelmed by scorchingosity.

Volume: All Recipes wins this one, hands down. Draining the whole peeled tomatoes meant my recipe only produced 1-1/2 cups of salsa. All Recipes almost doubled that. I got the flavor and slightly chunkier consistency I was looking for, but at the cost of serving a few more people.

Price: The total prices are within a dime of each other, but it’s two cents cheaper per serving to make the All Recipes salsa, since it produces more.

Even though there’s no clear victor, I’m ultimately chalking this experiment up in the win column. Each recipe would do Chris Berman proud, and you might even consider making both for Sunday. All Recipes provided nutritional information, so my calculations below are for price only. Everything else is per usual.

And thus ends Super Bowl Week. Hope everyone has a good game, and I’ll see you back here on Monday for more cheap, healthy goodness.

(Oh, also? Go Blue!)

FRESH SALSA 1
Makes 2-3/4 cups or 44 servings at 1 Tablespoon each
Adapted from All Recipes.

2 jalapeno chile peppers
2-1/2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1/2 tablespoon white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
5-oz diced tomatoes with green chile peppers
14 oz. whole peeled tomatoes with liquid

1) Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil.

2) Roast jalapenos on cookie sheet for 15 minutes. Let cool a little, then cut stems off.

3) Pulse jalapenos, garlic, onion, sugar, salt, cumin, and diced tomatoes with green chiles in a blender or food processor, until somewhat chunky. Add whole peeled tomatoes and pulse again until it reaches a consistency you like. Store in a covered bowl in the fridge until ready to serve.

Calories, Fat, and Price per Serving
7 calories, 0 g fat, $0.04

Calculations
2 jalapeno chile peppers: $0.35
2-1/2 cloves garlic, finely chopped: $0.12
1/2 onion, finely chopped: $0.08
1/2 tablespoon white sugar: $0.01
1/2 teaspoon salt: $0.01
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin: $0.01
5-oz diced tomatoes with green chile peppers: $0.46
14 oz. whole peeled tomatoes: $0.65
TOTAL: $1.67
PER SERVING (TOTAL/44): $0.04

~~~

FRESH SALSA 1 (CHG version)
Makes 1-1/2 cups or 24 servings at 1 Tablespoon each

1 jalapeno chile pepper
½ t extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/8 onion, finely chopped
1/2 tablespoon white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
5-oz diced tomatoes with green chile peppers
14 oz. whole peeled tomatoes, drained
1 teaspoon lime juice
cilantro (if desired)

1) Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil.

2) Roast jalapenos on cookie sheet for 15 minutes. Let cool a little, then cut stems off.

3) Heat olive oil over medium heat on a small pan. Cook chopped garlic until just before it starts to brown.

4) Pulse jalapenos, garlic, onion, sugar, salt, cumin, and diced tomatoes with green chiles in a blender or food processor, until somewhat chunky. Add whole peeled tomatoes and lime juice and pulse again until it reaches a consistency you like. Store in a covered bowl in the fridge until ready to serve.

Calories, Fat, and Price per Serving
5 calories, 0 g fat, $0.06

Calculations
1 jalapeno chile pepper: negligible calories and fat, $0.17
½ t extra virgin olive oil: 20 calories, 2.2 g fat, $0.02
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped: 9 calories, 0 g fat, $0.10
1/8 onion, finely chopped: 6 calories, 0 g fat, $0.04
1/2 tablespoon white sugar: 23 calories, 0 g fat, $0.01
1/2 teaspoon salt: negligible fat and calories, $0.01
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin: negligible fat and calories, $0.01
5-oz diced tomatoes with green chile peppers: 30 calories, 0 g fat, $0.46
14 oz. whole peeled tomatoes, drained: 66 calories, 0 g fat, $0.65
1 teaspoon lime juice: 3 calories, 0 g fat, $0.04
cilantro (if desired): negligible calories and fat, $0.33
TOTAL: 117 calories, 2.2 g fat, $1.54
PER SERVING (TOTAL/24): 5 calories, 0 g fat, $0.06

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1 comment:

Daniel Koontz said...

Mmmmm. Logic. And Salsa.

On that theme, I have to share with you and your readers one of the all-time best YouTube videos..

"Baby, no salsa on the LEATHER! Keep it on the chips."

Daniel Koontz
Casual Kitchen