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an exercise in sleep deprivation

Recipe: salsa del norte

Ever since Thursday night, when I was on the deck all bleary-eyed at 4 am trying to capture some astronomical magic, my sleep schedule has been completely whack. Since my parents are visiting, we’re dining out at some of our favorite places. I feel like I won’t want to eat for about a week after they leave. They go to bed on the early side (around 10pm) and then Jeremy and I stay up working late. But then Dad wakes up bright and early and well – Jeremy and I make it a rule to be awake when guests are awake. So you see, I am brain-function-impaired more and more each day. I suspect I’ll be stumbling around like a drunkard tomorrow.

i don’t even have emotions about these seared scallops right now

So normally, I keep my mouth shut about all of the people who tweet and post and Facebook about their gardens. You see, I’m lucky to not have killed off my little potted mint plant in the window sill yet (trust me, its days are numbered). I am so very green with envy of my many friends who not only live in a climate conducive to gardening, but know how to garden and then go and make gorgeous food with their bounties. Yes well, I’m the sucker who pays at the market for what she can’t grow. I long for the old days when my girlfriend at Clusters-R-Us came in with a bag of heirloom tomatoes from her yard and shouted, “Take them! I have so many I don’t know what to do with them!” It’s better than winning the lottery, in my opinion.

my store-bought produce

tomatoes are precious gems

It’s too cold overnight around here to grow things like tomatoes, but I have often thought that if I grew them indoors in our great room which has incredible sun exposure, I might be able to pull it off. Imagine my delight when I noticed a hydroponics grow store had opened up next to our local video shop. I mentioned this to my more astute friends one day and said I couldn’t wait to try growing some vegetables. They laughed. I hadn’t made the connection between all of the medical marijuana stores popping up (like weeds) around our town and the hydroponic garden shop. I mean, it’s not like I know how to grow most things anyway so why would that have been obvious to me? I just want some damn vegetables. I could conceivably try growing everything I’d need for a good old fashioned salsa.

onions, garlic, cilantro, jalapeño, salt, vinegar

broiled tomatoes

Truth be told, I like Trader Joe’s Salsa Autentica and I have about 24 jars of it in my cupboard. You should see the look on the face of the cashier when they ring up two or three dozen jars of salsa. They usually quip, “Wow, you guys must really like salsa *insert nervous laugh*.” If Trader Joe’s would move it’s righteous butt into Colorado, I wouldn’t have to hoard salsa in the first place and I wouldn’t have to bleed so much money at Whole Foods. Word. But what I like from time to time is this fresh, yet roasted salsa that you get in restaurants. Turns out, it is ridiculously easy to make. Ridiculously silly easy.

blenders seem to be at the root of many festive foods and beverages of late

ah cilantro – how i’ve grown to love you

Broil the tomatoes, dump everything into the blender, and you have yourself some salsa to love. Crank up the tang or the spice or the salt as you see fit. This comes from my favorite New Mexican recipe book and after one bite Jeremy noted that this is exactly what he gets in Mexican restos in New Mexico. So maybe I’ll limit my Trader Joe’s salsa purchase to just a dozen jars from now on?

guac, salsa, chips, beer – the only thing missing is you

Salsa del Norte
[print recipe]
from The Border Cookbook

1 1/2 lbs. whole Roma or Italian plum tomatoes, unpeeled
1/2 medium onion, chunked
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2-3 fresh jalapeño peppers
2 garlic cloves
1 1/2 tsps salt
2-3 tbsps vinegar, cider or cane
pinch of sugar (optional)

Heat broiler. Place tomatoes on a small baking sheet lined with foil. Broil 15-18 minutes, turning a couple of times until soft and skins split. There should be some dark spots. Let the tomatoes cool a bit. Put the whole tomatoes in a blender with the rest of the ingredients and purée. Serve warm or refrigerate for later use.

39 nibbles at “an exercise in sleep deprivation”

  1. Phoo-D says:

    I’m so glad to know I’m not the only one who hoards jars of Trader Joe’s salsa! The smoky peach salsa is our weakness and we bring back as much as we can carry whenever we make it out to California. I hope you catch up on your sleep next week. The pictures of the meteor showers were worth it!

  2. Melissa says:

    The salsa looks great, but mostly I’m excited to know that there is something that I’m better at than you! I thought for sure you rocked the world on all fronts. Glad my little tomato, cucumber and pumpkin garden makes you just a tad envious!!!

  3. Wei-Wei says:

    Haha “The only thing missing is you” DAMN right! I bet broiled tomatoes made a world of difference. This looks great!


  4. DessertForTwo says:

    I love the Border Cookbook-I think I’ve made every salsa recipe in that book! They were all fabulous!

  5. Skippy says:

    You take awesome pictures… I live one mile from a Trader Joe’s… we’re even. :::big grin:::

    I’m going to have to try this salsa recipe and look for this book. Thanks.

  6. Keeley says:

    Wow! This is identical to my fresh salsa recipe (minus the vinegar), but you roast your tomatoes! I’ll have to try this next time.

  7. JelliDonut says:

    Are the scallops from Flagstaff House? Thanks for the salsa recipe. Do you think we’ll ever get a TJ here in Colorado?

  8. Sharlene says:

    Fresh salsa and chips simply cannot be beat as a snack in my book. Can’t wait to try this out. The roasted tomatoes look fabulous!

  9. Tokyo Terrace says:

    Yeah, I would have been just as oblivious about the hydroponic shop. Not gonna lie. I use an AeroGarden to grow herbs in my Tokyo apartment. No garden space to speak of for me, so it works well. For the record, this post made me laugh out loud. Well written and put a smile on my face. Sweet!

  10. melanie says:

    Cool! I love Boulder beers. I see the ‘singletrack’ in your photo.My fave is ‘Hazed and Infused’.Mmmmmm.

  11. melanie says:

    I think I also see a Stone ‘Arrogant Bastard’. Am I right ? Love their beers,too! I’m a Hophead!

  12. Liz says:

    No matter how busy I am I always get so excited when my e-mail says you posted something new! My tomato plants have all died from excessive heat now (TX definately does not have cold nights), but we had heirlooms in the grocery store last week and they were so yummy it almost made up for the dead garden! I think I’ll have to find out if grilled tomotaes taste as yummy in this salsa, cause I want this for dinner tonight (and 108 is just not oven weather)!!!

  13. Pearl Lee says:

    i’ll be emotional for you: omgod yumm seared scallops *salivating*

  14. Rocky Mountain Woman says:

    We have no chance whatsoever of Trader Joe’s ever moving it’s righteous butt to Utah because Utah won’t let them sell wine. So…I seriously fill the back of my pickup whenever I travel with all kinds of goodies from TJ’s. I usually buy like 10 of everything and I get that look from the cashier that says..crazy lady….but, it is so worth it.

  15. Annie says:

    “Clusters-R-Us” – Oh, I love you Jen. Hope you get some sleep soon. I need it too! This salsa looks fantastic. I have TJ’s nearby but haven’t tried their salsa. I’ll have to keep an eye out for it next time I’m there.

  16. Lydia Schrandt says:

    I’ll be making this the second I get back to China from HK. Only 6 months and I already miss New Mexican food so much! It’s a shame I can’t find fresh jalapenos anywhere around here.

  17. foodess says:

    Can’t wait to make this! I like my homemade salsa with cooked tomatoes.

  18. Kristin says:

    First, I’m terribly sorry for you that you could not feel anything for/about those gorgeous scallops. Second, after being nauseous for just a few hours following surgery 2 weeks ago, I am all in favor of medical marijuana if it will help cancer pts & others with their nausea…not that I wasn’t in favor before, I just empathize more now because I clearly deal with pain better than I do nausea.

  19. Ali says:

    First of all – your scallops looks so good we can be emotional about the for you. Second – Try the serrano pepper for your next batch of salsa. It provides all the fire but none of the acidic bite of the jalapeno. More heat + less heartburn = happy panza.

  20. noëlle {simmer down!} says:

    I also have garden envy, but it’s just one of those things that I’ve come to accept about myself, I’m not a good gardener. I try to be “ok” with it, hey, one person can’t be good at everything! I do have a small herb patch but even that is looking pretty scraggly. I just content myself with enjoying the farmers’ market bounty while I can. I got heirloom tomatoes for $2 a pound last Saturday!!

  21. Donna says:

    Well Jen, I’ve got the garden. The heirloom tomatoes, the jalepenos, cherry peppers,herbs,squash, etc. However, when it comes to scenery you take the jackpot. Your photos never cease to make me sigh, they are magnificent. We were completely clouded over both nights of the meteor shower, so I thank you for sharing the wealth.

  22. Andrea @ Fork Fingers Chopsticks says:

    I hear you on TJ’s! Re the tomatoes – I’m still waiting for my tomatoes to ripen in Denver. Today I had a shimmer of hope as I see some of my brandywines turning faintly orange. I must admit I had immediate tomato envy with those tomaotes in your top pic. For extra delicious roasted salsa, I like to roast the chiles and onions.

  23. Amy says:

    Color me wanting to try this. YUM yum.

  24. Richard says:

    Thanks for the salsa recipe. I can’t wait to try it. If we wait long enough TJ will come to Colorado. Ikea will be here soon. When I moved to Denver it didn’t have a decent mall. Now we have almost all of the big box high end department stores in Cherry Creek.

  25. Lori says:

    For a little extra flavor try smoking the tomatoes with mesquite or hickory on the grill. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.

  26. Caitlin says:

    Chips, salsa and beer. Yep, I’m there! (Can you write a note for me for each of my profs as to why I’m missing the first week of classes though? ;P )

  27. Bing Chou says:

    If you end up considering hydroponics seriously, you may also want to think about aquaponics. The main difference is that in an aquaponics system, fish (many people grow edible ones) provide the nutrients, so no added nutrients are necessary. A friend in Boulder has expertise in this area (both aquaponics and hydroponics) if you’d like to be introduced. There’s great info at and

  28. Lucie says:

    If only I could take the plane to Trader Joe’s, I can assure you that the cashier would laugh at my 100 boxes of Jo-Jos. Your salsa looks so simple and perfect–some nice chips and you’re all set! Good luck catching up on sleep:)

  29. jenyu says:

    Mel – I’m sure there are plenty of things you are better at than me! :)

    JelliDonut – the scallops were from Jax Fish House in Boulder. I don’t know if we’ll ever get a TJ’s. It’s kinda breaking my heart…

    Tokyo Terrace – I think I want to try something like that next spring, growing veggies in my windows!

    Melanie – you know more about beer than I do. These beers friends had brought to a party ;)

    Liz – ugh, I feel for you on the excessive heat :(

    Rocky Mountain Woman – but at least you have IKEA!

    Lydia – are you guys able to try and grow some where you are living or do you move around too often?

    Kristin – for nausea, I found ginger chews candies worked amazingly well when I was on chemo. I personally don’t touch recreational drugs and stick to advil and tylenol when necessary – which isn’t too often.

    Ali – thanks!!

    Donna – I wish we could trade every now and again!

    Caitlin – sure thing, I’m positive they won’t mind ;) xo

    Bing – thanks. I’ll have to see how involved I want to get with all of this. Our biggest problem is climate – it gets downright cold here starting in September (evenings) through June.

    Lucie – Jeremy is a huge fan of JoJo’s too!! ;)

  30. Christine says:

    As a former TJ’s employee, I can remember discussing why certain states didn’t have locations. I think I recall something about Colorado’s antiquated liquor laws being the main reason why the state and the company butted heads.

  31. DianasaurDishes says:

    There’s nothing like fresh homemade salsa, I love it! We haven’t met yet but I’ve heard great things about you from friends like Jaden and Elise. I’ve admired your photography and writing style since I first started blogging and am excited to meet you at IFBC!

  32. Pei Lin says:

    Great to have you posting this recipe at last! will really have to give it a try but I first have to hunt down the peppers….

  33. Audrey in Oregon says:

    You don’t have to peel the tomatoes after their broiled??? Don’t the skins bother you?

    I guess I shouldn’t complain anymore that I have to drive 10 miles to the nearest TJ’s!

  34. Salsa del Norte « Rittiekitty's Yums! says:

    […] Adapted from Use Real Butter […]

  35. Lydia says:

    Jen- We have a little container garden on our patio, since we’re planning on staying here for a few years, but we can’t find jalapeno seeds anywhere. I think we’ll have to smuggle them in after our next visit to the states.

  36. jenyu says:

    Christine – yeah, I’ve heard that :( booooo.

    Audrey – nope! I thought the skins would be awful, but I didn’t notice them at all.

    Lydia – ;)

  37. Salsa Del Norte « Allison Eats says:

    […] that would travel well. A few months ago I’d come across this Salsa Del Norte recipe on Use Real Butter and I’m so glad I bookmarked it, because I knew that was going to be the perfect […]

  38. dv says:

    I love salsa, I make my own but I’ve found one I like better and cant get enough of. You gotta try this Border Town Salsa I found! Its in a jar, but tastes fresh. They say restaurant quality salsa and thats right

    You can find it here

    It makes it worth ordering salsa, plus its about as much as any other acceptable salsa costs at the store.

  39. Salsa Fresca Recipe — Andrea Meyers says:

    […] Use Real Butter – Salsa del Norte {id:"post-6416",affiliate:"124c39197980088",size:"3"} ROUXBE COOKING SCHOOL & COOKING CLASSES Share Filed Under: Appetizers, Cooking With Kids, Featured, Salsas & Dips Tagged With: gluten-free, Kids Cook Monday, salsa, tomatoes, vegan […]

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