Spicy, sweet, salty, smooth, chunky; the list goes on and on. When it comes to the popular Mexican food, salsa, varieties are endless. Step into your neighborhood grocery store and you will find an array of salsas from peach to pico de gallo to black bean and more. And while salsa has become, for most of us, a goto staple for almost any gathering or get together, it hasn’t always been that way. Said to have originated with the Aztecs, Mayans and Incas, salsa didn’t become truly popular in the United States until the 1980s. But it didn’t take Americans long to realize what they had been missing. By 1992 salsa sales in the U.S. had outpaced ketchup sales.

mexican food

Mexico, on the other hand, has known the secret of a great salsa for centuries. In Mexico, authentic salsa, which means sauce in Spanish, is typically made with just a few ingredients – tomatoes, garlic, onions and chilies – and it’s always fresh, not canned. To generate the variety of heat and flavors, chefs don’t add ingredients, they simply differ their cooking methods, from simmering to shallow frying to charring.

Go Ahead; It’s Good For You

Not only is salsa delicious, it is also good for you. When made fresh, the simple ingredients offer plenty of health benefits. Plus, these 4 basic ingredients are inexpensive and are everyday staples in most homes, probably already floating around your kitchen.

Tomatoes, the base of the salsa, are loaded with antioxidants and have been shown to offer anti-cancer benefits, cardiovascular support and support bone health. Chili peppers, added for their heat, fight inflammation, relieve pain, clear congestion, boost immunity, prevent stomach ulcers and lower the risk of type 2 diabetes. Loved by cultures throughout the world, Garlic has been shown to lower blood pressure, boost immunity, improve bone health and lower the risk of heart disease. And then there’s the Onion, a staple of so many culinary dishes, offering cancer protection as well as cardiovascular and anti-inflammatory benefits.

And that’s just the basic salsa! Every vegetable, herb or bean added to this basic authentic Mexican salsa, increases its health benefits. So go on, get creative!

The Many Salsa Styles

At Margaritas we love fresh salsa and are constantly experimenting with new styles, flavors and temperatures. Two of our favorites are Fire Roasted Corn Salsa and the Pineapple Salsa. Both go great with a big bowl of tortillas chips and a side of Handmade Fresh Guacamole. Or order a side of salsa to go along with any main course and use it as a condiment, just like they do in Mexico.

Speaking of Mexico, the most popular salsas you will find there are:

Salsa Roja – cooked tomatoes, cilantro, cumin, onion, garlic, chilies
Salsa Verde – jalapenos, cilantro, onion, tomatillos
Pico de Gallo – raw tomatoes, chilies, lime juice, onion, cilantro
Salsa Negra – dried chilies, garlic, oil
Salsa Taquera – chipotle chilies, tomatillos

Negra – dried chilies, garlic, oil
Salsa Taquera – chipotle chilies, tomatillos

There are some salsas that are even made with pumpkin seeds and peanuts. Others use Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce. The original creators, the Aztecs, used ground squash seeds in their salsas.

Making Salsa at Home

If you need one more reason to love salsa, it’s how convenient it is to make at home. If you want to try out your own fresh salsa at home, combine the following ingredients to make an authentic pico de gallo style. When all the ingredients are combined, drizzle the oil over top with a sprinkling of salt.

  • 2lbs of tomatoes
  • ¼ cup of chives (minced)
  • ½ cup of onion (chopped)
  • ¾ cup of cilantro (chopped)
  • 2 hot peppers (minced)
  • 5 limes
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • salt to taste
  • oil to taste

That’s not the Margaritas recipe (that’s top secret), but it’s a pretty good one!

Salsa, and pico de gallo in particular, taste great with chips, added to a salad as a healthy dressing alternative, poured over a plate of huevos rancheros, stuffed into a burrito or layered onto a taco. Salsa pretty much goes with anything and everything. Plus, it’s healthy and it’s quick. So next time you’re at Margaritas, deciding between the Street Tacos, Skillet Baked Enchiladas or Guadalajara Steak Fajitas, don’t forget a side of salsa!

And don’t forget, you can always pick up the world’s best salsa to go at any Margaritas restaurant!

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