Hunger is the best sauce, the saying goes. But those who like Mexican food may want something a little more substantial.
You use either fresh or canned mild green chiles and tomatoes in the sauce, plus jalapenos and -- the key ingredient -- epazote.
Epazote is available only to home gardeners, and, if you have some in your yard, it should be sprouting beautifully right now. While its medicinal flavor adds an interesting note to the salsa, the taste still will be good without it.
The acid flavor of tomatillos makes a good bitey sauce. And the salsa verde given here is thoroughly green, as the name indicates. No red tomato is added.
The salsa ranchera and salsa verde both require cooking. When in a hurry, try a sauce that is based on canned ingredients that merely have to be chopped and combined.
When something different to serve over chicken enchiladas, tacos and tostadas? Then try another salsa verde, this one featuring tomatillos, avocado and sour cream. To accent the green even further, the sauce includes parsley, green onions and spinach leaves.
The final sauce is as red as salas verde is green. It is made with chile powder, tomato puree and red wine. One batch of this sauce will coat enough enchiladas for a goodsized party and you can place one of the other salsas on the table for dipping with chips or spooning onto beans or other dishes.
ACAPULCO'S SALSA RANCHERA CON EPAZOTE (Makes 2 cups) 1 clove garlic 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup thinly sliced onion 2 tablespoons sliced jalapeno chiles 1 fresh or canned tomato, chopped 1 tablespoon chopped epazote Pinch sugar 6 fresh or canned mild green chiles, coarsely diced
Mash garlic in salt. Saute garlic, onion and jalpeno chiles in oil over low heat until soft but not browned. Add tomato, epazote, sugar and diced chiles (if using fresh chiles, roast and peel then first). Cook over low heat 5 minutes longer.
SALSA VERDE (Makes 1 1/2 cups) 12 tomatillos 2 mild green chiles, peeled and seeded 1 or 2 canned serrano chiles 1 small onion, peeled and sliced 1 colve garlic 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 tablespoon lard or shortening 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro or Chinese parsley
Peel off papery shell of tomatillos. Cut tomatillos in halves and cut out stem ends. Put tomatillos, chiles and onion through food grinder. Mash garlic in salt and add. Melt lard&in a saucepan, add sauce and simmer 15 to 20 minutes. Cool and serve sprinkled with cilantro.
QUICK SALSA (Makes 10 to 12 servings) 1 can (7 ounces) mild green chiles, drained and finely chopped 2 or 3 canned jalapeno chiles, finely chopped 1 onion, minced 1 can (1 pound 14 ounces) solid-pack tomatoes, draned and chopped Dash garlic salt Dash chile powder Salt, pepper 2 tablespoons oil
Combine chiles, onion and tomatoes. Season with garlic salt, chile powder and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in oil.
SALSA DE CHILE ROJO (Makes 7 cups) 1/2 cup oil 1 medium onion, minced 2 cloves garlic, minced 1/2 cup flour 6 cups chicken stock 1/2 cup tomato puree 2/3 cup chile powder 1/4 cup dry red wine Salt
Heat oil in a heavy saucepan. Add onion and garlic and cook until lightly browned. Stir in flour. Gradually add stock and tomato puree. Cook and stir until mixture boils. Blend chile powder with wine and add to boiling sauce. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. Add salt to taste. Strain through a fine sieve before using.
SALSA VERDE WITH AVOCADO (Makes 2 1/2 cups) 1 1/2 cups sour cream 3 green onions, chopped 1/4 cup chopped parsley 1 avocado, peeled and seeded 2 or 3 spinach leaves 3 drained canned tomatillos $ salt Hot pepper sauce, optional
Combine sour cream, green onions, parsley, avocado, spinach and tomatillos in blender. Blend thoroughly. Stir in salt to taste and add a few drops hot pepper sauce, if desired. CAPTION: Illustration, no caption