I have always loved spicy food – but never really knew how much (or how committed I was to it) until I spent an extended period of time in Mexico. I stayed at Papaya Playa Project in Tulum, Mexico and Chef Humberto made the most amazing Habanero Salsa. On my last day there I finally convinced him to tell me how he made it and he shyly said to me: “Bonita, it’s so facil. You roast some habaneros peppers, add some salt, vinegar and water – blended it all together and muy BUENO!”
I’m telling you – this salsa was SUPER SUPER make- you- sweat SPICY!! So, armed with Chef Humberto’s recipe, I decided to try making my own at home. As I went shopping I thought to myself that there was probably a better (different) way to make the salsa. Some way that you still got the flavor of the Habaneros but it wasn’t so spicy that you could barely breath (although a lot of us at Papaya Playa Project craved it that way – it was that good!)
Here is my version. So far I’ve gotten rave reviews. It’s a combo of Pico de Gallo and Habanero (remember: this is a design-by-taste recipe so taste often).
Disclaimer: It is worth mentioning that I rarely follow recipes and measurements. I believe you should taste as you go and alter according to your likes. I don’t use measuring cups other then the palm of my hand. For some reason, there is something really down-to-earth about that process. I dare you to try it….in my opinion it makes the experience, and the joy of cooking, that much better! I also find that I put way more effort into my cooking when I know that I am sharing with others. There’s something so gratifying by giving delicious food to people and hearing them rave about it (and come back for more). So without further ado, some of the best salsa I’ve had out there to date and I am proud to call it my own.
Nicole’s Homemade Habanero Pico De Gallo Salsa
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
- 9 habanero peppers
- 4 large hothouse tomatoes
- 3 plump limes
- medium red onion
- 5 – 7 cloves of garlic
- bush of cilantro
- Himalayan salt (about 5 pinches, but season to taste)
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup vinegar
- garlic powder (to taste)
- Place nine habaneros on a pan and roast in the oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. While roasting, prep the rest of the ingredients.
- Chop the tomatoes to your desired size. Once the tomatoes are chopped squeeze in your limes (remember to roll them on the counter before slicing – it helps get the juices flowing) and add salt to start marinating. Remember, from this point, to mix well (and often) every step of the way. Also, don't be afraid of the tomato juices, it helps make the salsa salsa!
- Finely chop up about half of a medium red onion plus half of the bushy part of a bunch of cilantro (or a tad more) along with the garlic cloves (about five). Mix altogether and let it sit while you wait for the Habaneros to be done. This is definitely a good place to taste with a tortilla chip and/or a taste tester to get the salt levels right. Remember, this is your base. So, when tasting, get it to a place where you would be happy eating this for the mild version all on it’s own.
- Once the Habaneros are finished roasting, pluck them off the stems and throw the entire group of peppers into a food processor (seeds and all). I’m sure a blender would do here as well although the spice may stick to the machine so I wouldn’t use the same one you make your morning smoothies with.
- Add a scoop of the Pico that you’ve made (juices included) and blend. Pulse and blend again. Pour in the water and vinegar. Then add a bit more salt and some garlic powder (to taste - if you don't need it, don't add it!). Keep adding a few more scoops of the Pico up until the liquid line in the food processor. This just helps blend and distribute the spices. Taste. If it’s too spicy then you can add a little more vinegar (but remember you will be mixing it with a lot of pico shortly so it will naturally dilute down the spice).
- Combine the remaining Pico mixture and the food processor salsa into one big bowl. Mix well, taste, perhaps salt a little more and enjoy!!
Don’t forget to share with your co-workers, family and friends! They will appreciate the efforts and you’ll earn some points by being able to make something so tasty!
Please note: the quantities in this recipe makes about three 16oz size jars. Because of the citrus and vinegar, these should easily last a week. Next time, I will try freezing some and report back. Enjoy!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nicole Woods is a California native who has worked in the entertainment industry for sixteen years. She is an internationally traveled entertainment executive by trade, yet a California woman at her core. California identifies who she is; down to earth, successful, beautiful (inside and out), positive and always looking for more.
With a passion for finding her own journey and a love for all categories this publication includes, now, no matter where she is in the world, she can always have a part of home with her and a community to share it with.