Have you ever eaten something that is so delicious that you are convinced it MUST be bad for you?  Salsa falls in that category, for me!  I love salsa …all kinds of salsa.  And I’m still amazed that it is a low calorie food. 

You can eat salsa in many ways besides with tortilla chips, which are pretty high calorie.  Try having salsa on chicken, meatloaf or fish. Try it with hummus, or on lettuce leaves, over eggs or grains or on potatoes!

The finished salsa – prior to the canning process

Recently I did a little canning session with dill pickles and salsa and shared on social media.  A great friend from Calgary expressed interest in the recipe (I won’t mention any names, Ruby Day).  So, I thought I would bring this recipe to the Unplowedroad.com and give it to the world!

Canned food
I canned not only salsa but also dill pickles and multicolored beans!

This recipe is so quick and easy to make, and there are so many variations – so don’t be afraid to experiment! Soon you will have your own version. Start with the basic ingredients.


1 can (14-15 ounces) Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes

½ Cup of roughly chopped white onion (or just use ½ of a good sized white onion)

½ Cup of roughly chopped red onion (or just use ½ of a good sized red onion)

2-3 Cloves of garlic, roughly chopped.

½ cup of loose packed fresh cilantro

½ medium jalapeño finely chopped.   

1 tablespoon of lime juice.  Fresh is best. 

½ teaspoon of fine sea salt.

2 Roma tomatoes, roughly chopped. 

salsa prep
Vegetables chopped and cilantro about to be mixed in.


  1. Start by prepping your vegetables.  I do all my slicing of onions, jalopeno, Roma tomatoes, and the cilantro work up front.
  2. Take your garlic and add it to a large bowl, toss in lime juice and mix up.
  3. Add cilantro to the bowl, toss again.
  4. Add onions and Roma tomatoes and toss again. 
  5. Lastly, add the sea salt and toss again. 
  6. Add your bowl of ingredients to a food processor. 
  7. Add the can of Fire Roasted tomatoes to the food processor. *Drain the water off first!*
  8. Hit “pulse” a few times or run the processor on low just a couple times to get everything mixed up. The longer you run it, the finer the salsa becomes.

Voila! You are done.  Transfer to a bowl, refrigerate and serve when ready!

Slicing the jalopeno end off first, then slice to access the ribs easiest and remove core and seeds. Next I create thin slices along the length of the pepper, and finely dice crosswise.

Variations on a theme:

Treat this as your “base”. It’s great just the way it is, or you can add additional ingredients to make it something completely different.  This makes it a very modular recipe that can be prepared many different ways.   For instance, add some black beans, mango, pineapple, green onions, green, red or yellow bell peppers, etc.  The sky is the limit!  Make it your own!

Pro Tips:


I go heavy on the cilantro, but that’s just my taste. I will add even more than the recipe calls for – I don’t measure it precisely.  I go based on how it looks and smells – if it is very strong cilantro I may use a bit less than what I may otherwise. Fresh cilantro can be a bit expensive in the grocery store so I like my local farmer’s market where I can get a big bundle for $1. 

How you prepare your cilantro can also vary depending on how you like it. If you want it whole and visibly leafy, just pull the leaves off and don’t chop prior to the food processor.  If you like it finer, then do a quick fan-chop to cut down the leaves prior to the food processor.

Fresh vs. Pre-prepared:

I often will use garlic that comes minced in a jar from the grocery store.  Yes, fresh is better but sometimes its just less hassle to have it already minced. Also, with it minced already there is no concern with leaving large chucks of garlic in the mix.  

Fresh lime juice is best but sometimes it is easier to use the bottled lime juice.  That’s fine, but just understand that veering away from fresh ingredients has two byproducts:  A) It reduces the fresh flavor profile – there is a little less garden-fresh “pop”. B) When using bottled lime juice there is always the possibility of introducing other ingredients to the mix, like preservatives or even sugars.  Choose your bottled lime juice carefully if you go this route.


I finely chop them even before to food processor to make sure they very finely chopped and dispersed even throughout the salsa – this leads to a very uniform level of heat without any “surprises”.  You know what I mean, where you bite in and get a big chunk of jalopeno and suddenly have a five alarm fire on your tongue!

diced onions
Roughly chopped red onions with jalopenos and white onions on deck!


Number of jalapeños is an easy way to determine heat.  ½ jalopeno for the above ratio is a good mild level.  Make it 1 full jalopeno for medium heat and scale up from there for as hot as you like it.  Habaneros and Serranos are also other peppers that can ratchet up the heat. 

Canned Fire Roasted Tomatoes:

If you prefer using Rotel, which usually comes in 10 ounce cans, just use 2 cans or add an extra Roma tomato. Often you can often find a grocery store’s house brand of Fire Roasted Diced Tomato in a 14 or 15 ounce can.

Salsa Consistency:

Some people like a fine salsa, others prefer their salsa thick and chunky, and still others prefer it almost whole – like a “cowboy caviar”.  You can control this with a combination of how coarse you chop the vegetables and how much time you let the mix spend in the food processor.  You just have to experiment to find the right solution for what you want.  If you like it super chunky like a cowboy caviar, I would skip the processor entirely, and switch to fine chopping the vegetables and simply hand mix all the ingredients. This is also advisable when introducing ingredients like black beans.  You could process the onion and other small ingredients and hand mix in tomato and black beans afterwards as well. 

Roughly chopped vegetables.

Watery or Not:

Choosing whether your want your salsa to have a bit of a liquid component is also up to your personal taste.  Personally, I like it to have a well mixed sauce aspect – I find it mixes the flavors really well.  But if you don’t then make sure to drain off as much water from the tomatoes and any additional canned ingredients. 


When using pineapple in the salsa you can augment the lime juice with pineapple juice to really permeate the salsa with a pineapple flavor.  It makes for a really interesting sweet/hot combination with the jalopeno. 


Most salsa, if you don’t add beans, are around 18 calories per half-cup.  Once you add beans it begins to climb a bit. 

2 Responses

  • Jarrett

    Salsa Etan.
    I am going to definitely try this

    • Right on! Give it a whirl and let me know what you think!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *