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Salsa primarily means any kind of a sauce and according to American English; salsa is the spicy sauce that is a major part of Mexican and Central American cuisine. Salsa is used as a dip and features with most dishes in Mexican and Spanish cuisines. The word salsa has been taken from the Latin word salsa meaning salty.

Origin of Salsa

The history of salsa can be traced back to the Aztecs, Mayans and Incas civilizations. The Spaniards discovered tomatoes after their conquest of Mexico and that led to the creation of the salsa sauces. Aztecs prepared a combination of tomatoes, chili peppers, ground squash seeds and served it as a condiment with turkey, lobster, venison and fish.

Ingredients Prescribed for Salsa

Usually salsa is available in the canned version at most stores, however it is also possible to make salsa from fresh tomatoes at home. The ingredients required to make salsa sauce are quite basic and can be found easily at home. The main ingredients are ripe tomatoes, onion, jalapeno pepper, limes, cilantro, garlic, salt and pepper. The canned version of salsa sauce contains vinegar, pickled peppers and even the tomatoes are acidic so that the shelf life is much more.

Popular Method of Preparation of Salsa

Ideally if salsa is being made at home, the tomatoes need to be pureed into a fine paste and then cooked together with other ingredients such as garlic and onions. Alternately not all salsa recipes require it to be cooked as in some cases salsa ingredients can be mixed well and then refrigerated till it is served. Salsa made at home can be served fresh as a condiment or even sealed in an airtight container and cooled in the refrigerator for an hour or so. The canned salsa found at stores is usually cooked at a temperature of 175 degrees Fahrenheit in order to increase their shelf life.

Serving and Eating Salsa Dishes

Salsa is a condiment, which is ideally used as a dip and therefore the ideal serving size of salsa is about 2 tablespoons or approximately 34 grams. Salsa accompanies most Mexican and Spanish dishes especially tortilla chips, soft taco, beef chili and pinto bean.

Types of Salsa

Salsa can be of different types and some of the most popular versions are as follows:

§ Salsa roja: This is a red sauce that is used as a condiment in Mexican and Southwestern cuisine and consists of tomatoes, chilli peppers, garlic onion and cilantro.

§ Salsa cruda: This is raw sauce, which is also known as salsa picada and is made from raw tomatoes, lime juice, onions, cilantro leaves, peppers and other chopped raw ingredients.

§ Salsa verda: This is the green sauce that is made from tomatillos and it is usually cooked. The Italian version of this sauce even includes a host of all kinds of herbs.

Special Salsa and Salsa Dishes

Salsa can be used as a condiment and enjoyed with a number of various dishes. Besides using salsa as a dip, salsa can also be used as an ingredient in some of the dishes such as Chinese salsa with mushrooms and Chicken in salsa verde. Some interesting salsa dip dishes also include corn salsa, smoked chili salsa and hot pepper salsa.

Variations of Salsa

There are quite a few variations of salsa among which one particular recipe is mango salsa. This is a spicy and a sweet sauce made from mangoes. It is usually used as a garnish on grilled fish or even grilled chicken. Chipotle salsa is yet another variation of salsa sauce, which is made from smoked jalapeno chili peppers, tomatoes, garlic and spices. Guacomole is also a kind of salsa sauce that is more of an avocado-based dip and is originally made from mashed ripe avocados combined with lime juice and salt.

Health and Nutrition Facts Related to Salsa

It is important to ensure that proper care is taken to prepare and store salsa, as many raw-served varieties can become a medium of dangerous bacteria. Salsa hardly contains any cholesterol and is even low in saturated fat. Salsa is high in potassium, Vitamin A, B6 and C. However, the negatives are that salsa also contains a high amount of sodium and sugar.

Famous Salsa Recipes

Following are some of the famous salsa sauce recipes that can easily be made at home:

§ Velvetta Salsa dip: This easy sauce recipe requires ingredients such as cheese and picante sauce where both the ingredients are microwaved for a couple of minutes. To this mixture cilantro is added and then served with tortilla chips.

§ Super Bowl Salsa: This is one of the most popular recipes and can be enjoyed practically with all kinds of dishes. This famous salsa dip is made from a can of peeled tomatoes, tomato juice, celery, chick peas, cucumber, cilantro, lime juice, vinegar, sugar, garlic, ground cumin and oregano. All the ingredients need to be combined and refrigerated before it is served.