Two Fourth of July Dips

Real Salsa and Yuppie Salsa

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A good friend, whom I’m lucky enough to have live just a block away, holds a Fourth of July barbecue every year. The Fourth also happens to be her husband’s birthday, so it’s a pretty serious party. Since the first of these parties, I’ve tried to bring something special-usually something with a naughty twist to it. The first year was Macedonia di Frutti, an alcoholic fruit salad; the second year was Crack Pie; and the third year was absinthe ice cream. This year, however, I couldn’t think of a thing to make, so I asked my friend what she’d like me to bring. Ever the practical party host, she asked for salsa. However, being me, I went to town on the whole salsa idea and decided to bring a duo of salsas.

The first is your very serious, very spicy, salsa roja picante. Blackened tomatoes, jalapenos and garlic pureed into a hot as hell salsa. It’s the real deal. The second is my yuppie salsa, my champagne and smoked salmon to bring in the anniversary of the nation kind of salsa: apricot salsa with mint. The hope is that the two will balance each other out.

Salsa Roja

Adapted from

2 tomatoes

2 jalapenos

1 clove unpeeled garlic

kosher salt

1.)   In a cast-iron skillet dry roast the vegetables and garlic. When the garlic skin is totally brown on all sides, take it out and peel it.

2.)   Roast the tomatoes and jalapenos until they’re black and peeling on all sides. This may take awhile and your house will get pretty smoky while they’re cooking. Still, it feels very primal and it looks damned pretty, so enjoy it.


3.)   Peel the garlic and jalapeno and mash them into a pulp.


4.)   Skin the tomatoes and add all the ingredients to a food processor and process until smooth.

5.)   For a smoother texture, pour through a mesh strainer to get out the tomato seeds, making sure to pound the tomato pulp back into the salsa with the back of a spoon.

6.)   Season and serve.

Apricot Mint Salsa

Adapted from Saveur

Juice of 2 oranges

½ cup white wine vinegar

1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 jalapeno, deseeded and minced

¼ cup chopped mint

¼ cup chopped cilantro

1.)   Boil juice over medium heat until it turns into a thin syrup.

2.)   Add vinegar and salt and continue cooking until salt dissolves

3.)   Return to boil and add apricots, garlic, jalapeno, and onion. Reduce heat and cook, covered for about 5 to 7 minutes.


4.)   Wait to cool and add herbs.