Bloody Mary Salsa

As you can see, I’m drinking to the end of summer. Stirred (not shaken) up as a last-minute idea for the Salsa Takedown at Mo Pitkins, this salsa is my sloppy toast to another warm season of farm-fresh fruits and vegetables, many of which I feel much closer to in the wake of their departure for the fall.

I find nothing sacrilege about tainting the sweetest, loveliest tomatoes with vodka. In fact, tasting this fresh homage to the classic Bloody Mary — all chopped up — made me yearn to blend up my juices fresh the next time I make the cocktail, instead of using store-bought tomato juice. I suppose that will have to wait till next summer, though, to sample it with equally sweet and superior tomatoes.

more than just a summer fling

Not surprisingly, the salsa came out tasting exactly like the way I like my Bloody Mary: spicy, horseradish-y, black peppery and lemony. It incorporates pretty much all the same ingredients I would use to make a Bloody Mary, including chopped-up stuffed olives and celery bits and some fresh hot peppers for bite instead of just hot sauce. The key is to let the salsa marinate for a few hours before dipping into it with chips, to both let the juices seep back into the chunks and hence be less watery and to allow the flavors to mate and have offspring flavors of their own.

who knew there were so many types of hot peppers growing in New York’s backyard?

Whether the Bloody Mary is a flavor combination that most people actually like, however, is something much more vague to me. I began to notice this at the Salsa Takedown, where my entry took a four-way tie for fourth place (out of five). No doubt, there were some terrific-tasting salsas at the event, and a good time was had by all. But I got to thinking that the Bloody Mary is just not that widespread in popularity. It’s a tad too dated, or esoteric to take on a food twist of itself, sort of like trying to translate the Black & Tan into a cake flavor. You just kind of have to be a fan of its inspiration first. Which isn’t a problem for me.

pulpy pieces pre-tossing

Bloody Mary Salsa
(makes about 6 cups)

4-5 ripe red tomatoes, finely diced
1 cup yellow or orange grape tomatoes, quartered (optional, mostly for color)
2 stalks celery hearts plus leaves, very finely chopped
1/4 cup onion, very finely chopped
2 scallions, both white and green parts, finely sliced
2-3 medium-hot chili peppers, seeded and finely chopped
1/4 cup Spanish pimento olives, rinsed, dried and sliced
juice of 2 lemons and 1 tsp of zest
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tb prepared horseradish
1-2 tsp Tabasco sauce
1 tsp salt
1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 tsp Cajun seasoning, such as Old Bay
1 shot vodka (optional)

Combine everything in a giant bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving with chips so that the flavors have had sufficient time to bind. Or let chill overnight. Keep up to one week covered and refrigerated.

Cost Calculator
(for 6 cups)

5 medium plum tomatoes (at $2/lb from Farmers’ Market): $4.50
1 cup orange grape tomatoes (from a carton at $3): $2.00
2 chili peppers and 1 jalapeno pepper (at $2/lb): $0.30
2 stalks celery plus leaves (at $2/head): $0.33
2 scallions (at $2/bunch of 5): $0.80
1/4 cup chopped onion (at $1/lb): $0.25
2 lemons (at 3/$1): $0.67
2 Tb jarred prepared horseradish: $0.40
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce: $0.25
1 tsp Tabasco sauce: $0.20
1/4 cup Spanish olives (at $1.50/jar): $0.40
salt, pepper, 1/2 tsp Old Bay: $0.20
1 shot vodka: $1.00

Total: $11.30

Health Factor

Three brownie points: Excepting that shot of vodka, this would have been a shoo-in for only two brownie points. Mostly fresh veggies like tomatoes and celery, no fat, and minimal jarred and sodium-packed ingredients (compared to the cocktail). A summer salsa worthy of all the vitamin-rich and unprocessed implications of the word. But who are you kidding — why wouldn’t you spike it with vodka? It’s the perfect excuse.

12 Responses

  1. Ariel

    Interestingly enough, I too made salsa yesterday, however without the zing of vodka. I had enough fun blistering my poblanos under the broiler.

  2. Yvo

    Sounds interesting!!!

  3. David Giesberg

    Just had some – excellent stuff, I made it with Serrano peppers and Cholula hot sauce instead of tabasco, just because that’s what we had on hand (almost a bloody maria salsa, eh?). It is definitely an interesting salsa – the zing from worcestershire and old bay gave it a cool flavor. Thanks for the inspiration!

  4. Deborah Dowd

    Just hearing the name of thie recipe makes me want to try this, especially as we endure summer temps in these fall days!

  5. anthony

    feels good enough to try out especially since my son in law loves his shot of vodka

  6. Mollyr

    Can you can and process this?

  7. Natalie

    How do I add your RSS feed to my reader? I could do with a little beginners help 🙂

  8. Chiapas Spanish School

    I’ve recently started a blog, the information you provide on this site has helped me tremendously. Thank you for all of your time & work.

  9. Christian Pecha

    Thanx for the effort, keep up the good work Great work. I would like to thank you for sharing your thoughts and time into the stuff you post!! Hope you will make some more posts.

  10. Elaine

    Can’t wait to make and try this!

  11. Gene Hansen

    Seriously . . . . . Just ONE shot for all that salsa? 🙂

  12. Alyson e

    Really liked this! Used celery salt since I was out of celery and did Franks instead of Tabasco. We did not do the vodka. This was wonderful with shrimp, crackers, baked potatoes, etc.

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