A recipe for bright and colorful South American salsa made with chopped bell peppers, onion, tomato and garlic tossed with red wine vinegar and olive oil. This is the Argentinian version.
In my food research and studies, I've found that some version of "salsa" can be found in every country around the world. At its root, salsa is simply a combination of fresh local vegetables (and sometimes fruit) with other local seasonings. It can be served fresh and raw, or cooked in some form and processed, but from place to place it is essentially the same thing. The biggest difference between them is the selection of local ingredients.
Salsa Criolla is no different. Note that this recipe is the Argentinian version of the salsa, not the Peruvian Salsa Criolla that is much different, one that I hope to include on the web site here soon. The Argentinian version of Salsa Criolla is much more vibrant in color and much closer to salsa you may already be used to eating.
The base of Argentinian Salsa Criolla is red bell pepper, onion, tomato, vinegar and oil. From there you are free to add in other ingredients, which I have done, of course, but as you can see, it is quite similar to what you might find anywhere in the U.S. Salsa Criolla isn't meant to be enjoyed as a typical salsa, however. Instead, it is meant to accompany meat, particularly steak, as a condiment along with chimichurri. It is also popular with street food, such as choripán, basically chorizo served on a bun, along with chimichurri.
Because of the combination of vinegar and oil, it is reminscent of a mild giardiniera (check out our local Chicago Style Giariniera Recipe as a comparison), though Salsa Criolla is meant to be served fresh, immediately after you make it. It will keep for days, for sure, but you can dish it up right away and enjoy it quickly.
It's such a gorgeous condiment, wouldn't you say? Looking at it, it's hard to deny the alluring vibrancy of the salsa, the bright and inviting combination of colors, even the reflecting sheen of the oil and the promise of the chili flakes. I don't see any reason why you can serve this as-is or dig in with a bag of tortilla chips, but honesly, the salsa shines when served over the top of a grilled steak or chicken breast, or spooned over a sizzling sausage in a bun.
Making it is as simple as can be. It's all chopping with a bit of whisking and stirring. You can have this done in about 5 minutes, unless you're a slow cook like me, in which case you'll need maybe 7 minutes. Don't worry about timing yourself. It isn't a competition. I won't fault you for slow chopping.
As with any recipe like this, you are sure to find variations from restaurant to restaurant, from home to home, but this is a version I personally prefer. I love it. I hope you do, too.
Salsa Criolla - Argentinian Salsa – Recipe
- 1 small red bell pepper, finely chopped
- ½ small white onion, finely chopped
- 1 small tomato, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh oregano
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Add the bell pepper, onion, tomato and garlic to a large bowl.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil and vinegar. Pour it into the first bowl and toss to coat everything.
- Add the crushed red pepper, oregano and salt and pepper to your preference.
- Give it a good stir and serve.