Jeffrey and I kicked off the weekend celebrating one of our favorite Santa Barbara traditions – Old Spanish Days Fiesta, a festival dedicated to honoring and preserving the city’s history, spirit, culture and heritage, and a mainstay that's continued for nearly 100 years. To get in the spirit, Jeffrey recreated our favorite salsas that we learned how to make whilst in Mexico two years ago. Not only are they authentic and delicious, but they’re super easy to prepare and call for ingredients that you most likely have on hand, in the garden or in your liquor cabinet. And we have easy video tutorials here for you to follow...
Almost exactly two years ago, Jeffrey and I went on an amazing getaway to Mexico to celebrate our anniversary. And, hands down, one of the highlights was taking a salsa making class, followed by a tequila tasting... and if you know me, you know I love tequila. We learned how to make seven different salsas, a pico de gallo and a guacamole, all made from very similar ingredients. These recipes have become such a hit that we remake them every summer when the tomatoes and peppers are at their prime.
The perfect blend of creamy with a kick, Spicy Aguamolé is made using an avocado, three tomatillos, a small handful of cilantro (plus stems), 1/3 white onion, three cloves of garlic, juice of one lime, jalapeño, a teaspoon of salt, and half a teaspoon of black pepper.
If you don’t like too much spice, remember that the kick in a pepper isn’t concentrated in the “meat” of the pepper or even the seeds. It’s in the pith or the white part that connects the seeds to the “meat” of the pepper. So, if you want to cool the pepper remove part or all of the pith. And for those that don't want any spice at all, just omit the pepper, and you have plain Aguamolé.
Simply chop the veggies, blend until smooth, and serve – it couldn’t be easier! If the blender needs a bit more liquid, add a dash of water to get things going.
Spicy Aguamolé is great as a dip with chips or slathered over eggs for breakfast.
It’s called Lazy for a reason. This super simple and versatile salsa is made with the classic ingredients: three plum tomatoes, 1/3 white onion, two cloves of garlic, juice of one lime, small handful of cilantro (plus stems) and a jalapeño.
Give the veggies a quick chop, add the lime juice, a teaspoon of salt, a half teaspoon black pepper, and pulse in the blender… and keep it chunky, like pico de gallo. I find it helps to chop and mix the ingredients with a wooden spoon first before pulsing. This way everything will get an equal shot at being pulsed without becoming liquified. As before, if you need more liquid, add a dash of water to get things going. If it’s too spicy, add a little more salt.
Transfer to a sauce pan and simmer for a couple of minutes. Once the color goes from a reddish/greenish color to a brownish hue, you have arrived. Pour into a bowl and serve warm or cold – either way is delicious. My favorite salsa bowls are these bamboo ones, they are the perfect size for dipping and a great alternative to using plastic or paper outdoors.
This is one of Jeffrey’s favorite salsas for a few different reasons. It involves mezcal, lighting things on fire, and did I mention, mezcal? The Drunken Salsa gets its name from the addition of mezcal, a smokier cousin of tequila made from any one of 30 different agave varietals. The ingredients include the usual suspects – three plum tomatoes, 1/3 white onion, two cloves of garlic, small bunch of cilantro (with stems), a teaspoon of salt, a half teaspoon black pepper – and in Jeffrey’s version, it gets its kick from a habañero pepper.
Chop the onion, tomato, pepper and garlic and sauté in a skillet until charred. I prefer using a cast iron skillet, but any skillet WITHOUT a non-stick coating will do. Once everything is cooked through, and there’s a nice coat of “fond” on the skillet (the bits of the veggies that have burned and stuck to the skillet), pull off burner.
Pour a shot or two of the mezcal to deglaze. Put the skillet back on the burner, but be very careful as the Mezcal will ignite and cause flames… which is what you want it to do. Let it burn down, and once the flame is gone, scrape the bottom of the skillet to dislodge all of that tasty charred fond.
Transfer ingredients to the blender, add another splash of mezcal, the cilantro, salt and black pepper, and blend. If you are serving this to a mixed crowd of people above and below the legal drinking age, use water in the blender instead of mezcal. The alcohol content of the mezcal used in the skillet will burn off, but the mezcal you pour into the blender will retain its kick.
Taste… add more salt if too spicy. The effect of all of this is to give this salsa a smokey taste that is deeeelicious.
And it wouldn't be Fiesta without a festive cocktail – like this authentic Sangrita that we also discovered while in Mexico. Traditionally this non-alcoholic drink is paired with a shot of tequila to highlight its crisp acidity and to cleanse the palate. Served over ice, it's a refreshing mix of sweet, sour and a little spicy. It's also commonly used in a drink called The Mexican Flag, which includes a shot of Sangrita, a shot of tequila and a shot of lime juice. Salud!
2 oz orange juice
2 oz fresh lime juice
3 oz Clamato
3 splashes of Tabasco
3 splashes of Jugo
4 splashes of Worcestershire Sauce
Pinch of Salt
Splash of Grenadine
Click Video Below
We might not be venturing too far at the moment, but reminiscing about some of our favorite international destinations has been a fun way to unwind and have a laugh. And while Fiesta was a great reason to whip up the salsas and Sangrita, it can be enjoyed all summer long.
Thank you so much for the message, Supriya! Let me know how you like them! xo
LOOKS SO FRESHY AND YUMMY!! definitely will be trying all of these recipes. Thx for the inspiration :) ps my mouth was literally watering imagining all these herbs, spices, veggies, fruit (ie tomato) together.