Sideline Salsa


Unsung Hero


Sideline Salsa by Cakewalker


There’s no denying the superstars of Super Bowl fare are chicken wings and guacamole. It’s a national fixation that will see record prices for the fowl in 2013 and staggering numbers for pounds of avocados consumed are expected to keep the bar at previous years’ levels. With their versatile array of sauces and glazes ranging from smoking hot to salty-sweet, wings are the palate pleasing chameleon of the table. A nicely spiced guacamole with its alluring color and creamy texture makes mouths swoon up against the salty crunch of a tortilla chip. What’s not to love?


Sideline Salsa Ingredients by Cakewalker


Today I pay respects to the underdog condiment. A dish typically relegated to the sidelines with nary a thought or fanfare beyond unscrewing a vacuum-sealed lid from a jar and dumping its contents into a serving bowl. My spotlight shines on salsa—homemade salsa. I know the drill. We all get busy. When it comes to putting together a party spread, often times the simplest of elements become items of convenience. Friends, I’m here to attest that a handful of fresh ingredients blended up with a can of tomatoes are not only a thing of beauty, it’s quick and easy.


Fresh ingredient preparation for Sideline Salsa by Cakewalker


I began making salsa three years ago. It simply happened one day. Whether the stars aligned or the pantry and the refrigerator produce drawer were in cahoots, the first batch came easier than flipping a light switch. I remember the expression of delight on my wife’s face upon first taste. I knew I had a keeper.


Roasting method for Sideline Salsa by Cakewalker


Shortly thereafter, another spike of inspiration came when I decided to grow my own chili peppers. My first planting was the habanero pepper, which back then enjoyed the title of the world’s hottest pepper. Interestingly, I had never before tasted a habanero—at least that I knew of. Go big or go home, right? In turn this lead to what is now an annual hobby of growing organic chilies. This past season, I took on the former reigning champ of atomic peppers as of February 2012, by growing the Naga Bhut Jolokia or Ghost Pepper. But that’s another story for another time.


Blender sequence for Sideline Salsa by Cakewalker


Since the first batch of salsa, our tastes have become accustomed to more fiery renditions. But that original recipe concocted on a whim stands proud on a foundation of full-flavored merit and adaptability.


Watch the recorded video from a live demonstration of Sideline Salsa!

Sideline Salsa Platter by Cakewalker

Need another Super Bowl party idea? Try this recipe.


Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 4 cups


Hosting a Super Bowl get together? Get your game face on and serve this delicious salsa. The recipe comes together quickly and the fresh, zippy south-of-the-border flavor elevates its unsung hero status from an afterthought to first string placement on your food table. Trust me; you and your guests are likely to call this player into action. Repeatedly!


  • 1 28-ounce can whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 medium red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 fresh jalapeno peppers
  • 1 fresh Serrano pepper
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, loosely packed leaves and small stems (discard large stems)
  • Juice of 1 large fresh lime
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste


  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a roasting pan with foil and set aside.
  • Split the 4 peppers lengthwise and deseed. You may wish to leave some of the membrane (whitish tissue surrounding the seeds) intact as it carries heat. Reserve one half of one jalapeno for use later. Place remaining peppers skin-side up on the roasting pan. Slice the attachment end (not the point end) of the garlic clove off but leave the paper skin on; place on roasting pan pulling a corner of the foil sheet over to cover it. Roast the peppers and garlic for 8 minutes. Switch the oven to broil mode, keeping an eye on the peppers, broil them until the skins are charred dark and blistered, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven; allow the contents to cool slightly.
  • To a blender cup add the onion, the reserved half of one jalapeno, cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper. Squeeze the roasted garlic from its skin into the cup; add the roasted peppers and the tomatoes. Blend on medium speed for two 15-second intervals. From this point on use a higher speed; pulse the motor in short blasts until the onion and cilantro are rendered into small bits and flecks. If you prefer a chunkier salsa, scale back on additional pulsing. Transfer salsa to and air tight container. Store refrigerated for up to 5 days.


This salsa is terrific to use year round as the fresh ingredients are readily available in most parts of the US. The recipe is very adaptable in that you may increase or decrease the amount or type of peppers used according to your preferences. Be sure the canned tomatoes used are packed in their own juice or at least water, that way the desired viscosity of the finished dish will be achieved.


  1. Oh, Brooks!! You’ve done it!! Simple, pure brilliance. I adore salsa, and would take it over guacamole almost without fail. Actually, I prefer the two sort of layered together, you know, a little guar then a little salsa.
    My husband has been looking for a salsa to make for our Super Bowl Party, and I’ve just forwarded him your recipe (salsa is the ONLY thing he makes n the kitchen). Love the idea of roasting the peppers in the oven, I’ve been grilling them, but we are in rain and it’s not so fun to grill in the rain….
    Happy Sunday, and I’ve got my fingers crossed that my 9ers go all the way!!!

    • Wonderful Kim! Please enjoy the recipe…something tells me your husband has his salsa game on. NorCal has 49er fever too, fingers are crossed ― for the team and for some sun.

  2. I love, love, love chips and salsa. I like that you roasted the peppers too. Talk about an extra flavor boost. I don’t think I could handle your current fiery salsa, but I could dive into this bowl!

  3. I make a “somewhat” similar salsa, but I’m loving that you roasted the jalapenos first. Beautiful presentation.

  4. I love your version of salsa – very nice 🙂

  5. Perfect party food…and I see you’re using my favorite brand of tomatoes 🙂 I’d have to tone down the heat for my family, but other than that, your recipe is perfect!

  6. Love it, Brooks! I feel very, very sorry for the folks who don’t like cilantro, because to me, that’s what gives salsa its salsa-y-ness!

  7. We’re big fans of homemade salsa around here, too. Love your colorful assortment of chips!

  8. I love homemade salsa & will enjoy trying your recipe. Those blue chips on the platter look so inviting! Thanks for sharing. Enjoy the game 🙂


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