September 15, 2000
Who would have guessed that salsa, once considered an ethnic food, would not only become one of America's favorite condiments but also would be considered an essential ingredient in quick, flavorful, family meals? Salsa is low in calories and high in flavor. Today's busy cook knows that the complex blend of flavors in chunky salsa can provide most of the seasoning needed for a delicious family main dish.
Salsa Prima, from the Ortega Kitchen, provides an even greater selection of flavors with the addition of ingredients like roasted garlic, crunchy red, yellow and green bell peppers, whole kernel corn, beans and other vegetables. These premium quality, vegetable-filled salsas are the perfect additions to meatloaf, soups, skillet dinners or chili. They add texture, taste and crunch that the whole family will enjoy.
For time-pressed cooks, these recipes are simple to prepare and require a minimum of ingredients. Most are ready in 30 minutes or less. Instant rice, crusty bread, a simple potato dish, pasta salad, green salad or fresh-cut fruit could complement the meal.
Authentic Mexican food has always been enhanced by a variety of sauces, called salsas. Typically, a table is set with a choice of three salsas - one very mild, one spiced with some chile and one that is not for the faint of heart.
In its simplest form, a salsa consists of a base ingredient such as fresh or roasted tomatoes, avocados, tomatillos or a fruit, such as pineapple or melon. In addition, fresh or roasted chiles, onions or scallions and some fresh or dried herbs are added. Certainly, the result has always been more than the sum total of its parts. Salsas are the heart of Mexican cuisine.
For over 100 years, the Ortega family has offered authentic Mexican-style food to American consumers. Their salsas offer a delicious blend of flavors including vine-ripened tomatoes, fire-roasted chiles, cilantro and other seasonings.
Take a jar of vegetable-filled salsa and experiment with one of these easy family menu ideas:
Cheesy Skillet Dinner
(Makes 4 to 6 servings)
COOK beef, onion and mushrooms in large skillet until beef is browned; drain. Stir in salsa and chiles; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 to 3 minutes.
SPRINKLE with 1 1/2 cups cheese and tortilla chips, then top with remaining cheese. Cover; cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes or until cheese melts.
(Makes 6 servings)
PREHEAT oven to 350&SHY; F. Lightly grease 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.
COMBINE pork, beef, 1 cup cheese, bread crumbs, 1/2 cup salsa, eggs, parsley, jalapeños and salt in large bowl. Place meat mixture into prepared loaf pan.
BAKE for 55 to 60 minutes or until no longer pink in center. Remove from oven; drain. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes; remove from pan. Top with remaining cheese and salsa before serving.
Mexican-Style Tomato Bean Soup
(Makes 6 to 8 servings)
Garnish suggestions: tortilla strips, croutons, sour cream, cooked crumbled bacon
COMBINE juice, beans, salsa, water and seasoning mix in large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in 1/2 cup cheese. Top with garnish and add remaining cheese, if desired.
Easy Mexican Calzones
(Makes 4 servings)
PREHEAT oven to 425&SHY; F.
BROWN beef in large skillet; drain. Add chiles, water and seasoning mix; mix well.
PLACE unwrapped pie crusts on cutting board; unfold. Cut each crust in half, making 4 half circles. Place 1/2 cup beef filling on half of each half circle. Place 1/4 cup cheese on top of each. Dampen edge of crust with water. Fold sides over filling; crimp edges with tines of fork. Place on ungreased baking sheet.
BAKE for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes. Garnish as desired.
(Makes 8 burgers)
COMBINE beef and seasoning mix in large bowl. Shape into 8 balls. Make a well in center of each; place 2 tablespoons cheese in each well. Enclose the well and flatten into patties.
GRILL or broil for 4 to 5 minutes on each side or until no longer pink in center. Serve on buns with salsa.
(Makes 6 servings)
Garnish suggestions: Ortega Diced Jalapeños, shredded cheese, diced tomatoes, sliced ripe olives, sliced green onions, sour cream, chopped onion
COOK beef and onion in large saucepan until beef is browned; drain. Stir in salsa, beans, water, chiles and seasoning mix. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 25 minutes. Garnish as desired.