Cilantro Salsa in Three Acts

Inspired By Leftovers .. Yum!

Mar 11, 2011 by

I think I admitted my Foodie status in another blog but can’t remember. (I blame it on LBS – Leaky Brain Syndrome, first cousin to CRS – Can’t Remember Shit).

So if I didn’t, I am now. I used to be a caterer, a recipe developer and a food writer and even had a cooking show on a cable channel in Victoria, BC, long before the Food Network was either a chicken or an egg.

I was once hired to develop flavors for a product you’ve never seen: Shark Jerky. I think the Asians who hired me were actually deliberately destroying wealth for tax purposes because the whole thing suddenly disappeared despite positive reviews of the three flavors I developed: Lemon and Pepper, White wine and Worcestshire and Barbecue. To be honest, it is the only time I can remember my friends refusing to sample my food, so maybe there was a message I wasn’t getting.

And here’s another admission: Leftovers inspire me. Sometimes I enjoy what I do with leftovers even more than what the original recipe was used for.

My famous Cilantro Salsa is the perfect example of this approach.  Of course, if you are one of the people for whom cilantro tastes like soap, forget the whole thing and read this from the New York Times.

But people who love cilantro love this recipe. The flavor seems to burst in the mouth. Buoyed by the lemon juice, with a kick from the hot pepper and onion, it has an addictive quality to it. Bring a bowl of salsa and bag of chips as a quick and surefire offering to a potluck.

Cilantro Salsa

1 bunch fresh cilantro, washed

1 bunch green onions or 1/2 red or sweet white onion

6-8 small good tasting tomatoes (Campari work well, Roma in a pinch)

1/8 tsp. cayenne, a few drops  Green or Red Tabasco or other hot pepper sauce of your choice

Juice of one lemon

Salt and pepper

In processor, chop onion and cilantro until coarsely chopped. Add tomatoes (first quarter or cut in chunks), pepper, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Pulse until coarsely chopped and blended. Check for flavor. It should have a dominant cilantro taste with a good sour tang and slight hot kick at the end.

Phase 1 – Freshly made

Nachos- Serve with chips or over other nacho ingredients.

Quesadillas -Spread on a flour tortilla, top with cooked shrimp, left over chicken or fresh crab, sprinkle with grated cheddar and jack, put another tortilla on top, heat it in the microwave or hot oven for one minute, until cheese melts, cut in wedges and serve as an appetizer.

Baked potatoes – Bake potatoes in oven or microwave. Cut open and fluff. Sprinkle a favorite mixture of cheeses (cheddar and feta or jack), heat in oven or microwave until the cheeses melt. Top generously with salsa.

Garlic Potatoes and Cheese – Cut yellow finn or other waxy potatoes into chunks, toss with whole garlic cloves and olive oil. Bake, tightly covered in microwave, until soft. Top with mixed grated cheeses. Heat until cheese melts. Serve with the salsa.

Phase 2 – Next day or two

Huevos Rancheros – Heat the salsa in a non-stick frying pan. Gently drop several eggs into the pan, making slight depression for each one. Cook gently until they are “poached”, sprinkle with cheese, let the cheese melt, serve over corn tortilla.

Baked fish – Pour salsa over fresh red snapper or other fish and bake in microwave or broil.

Phase 3 – Up to four days later

Tortilla Soup

Use the salsa as the base for a quick tortilla soup. Heat homemade or canned chicken broth with the leftover salsa, several cloves of fresh crushed garlic, and fresh lime juice. After it has heated, add several handfuls of left over tortilla chips (our house always has half-filled bags), cook until chips soften and begin to decompose. Sprinkle with grated cheese before serving.

Photo credit: Fabalv

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About the Author

Rebecca Crichton Has Written 40 Articles For Us!

I try to stay aware of one main concept: We see things through different lenses. We get caught in our own belief systems and most of us are pretty attached to being right. I am one of those inveterate Life Long Learners. I like new ideas, new experiences, new people, new challenges.
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  1. Erika Stanley

    You also created a Thai Peanut flavor which was my favorite of all the shark jerky–I loved that stuff! It is due to make a comeback, I think.

  2. Rebecca – The soup sounds wonderful. I would never had thought to use salsa for a soup base .. brilliant. I’m thinking that the left over salsa would be yummy as a marinate for chicken as well as fish. Crumble some chips over the top, drizzle a bit of olive oil and bake. You’ve done all the hard work day one!

  3. Thanks for sharing that recipe! I’m a salsa AND a cilantro fan so I can’t wait to try it! I also love your 4-part leftover suggestions! – SerenaK

    • Rebecca Crichton

      Thanks Serena, This is yet another good thing we have in common. Let me know how you like it!


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