Bloomingfoods and the City of Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department cohosted the 24th annual Salsa Contest during the Bloomington Community Farmers’ Market on August 25.

The Salsa Contest staff says it “always takes place at the end of August when tomatoes, tomatillos, and peppers are at the height of their glory. We encourage contestants to focus on local ingredients when they can, including heirloom tomatoes, garlic, and hot or sweet peppers. Many specialty salsas make use of local peaches, berries, or other fruit.”

The teams of judges were made up of local foodies, one of which was Bloom‘s very own food editor Christine Barbour. The salsas were judged in three categories—cooked, raw, and specialty.

Over the next few days we will be posting the top three winners in each category, so check back for more!


Contest Winners 2012: Cooked Salsa

Judging team for cooked salsa: Chris Gaal, Toby Moreno, Kayte Young

1st Place: Alice Hui and Aulaire Schmitz

2 pounds Roma tomatoes
1 red onion
1 1/2 large red peppers
2 large poblano peppers
3 large serrano peppers
1 cup fresh cilantro, packed
1 head garlic, peeled
Juice from 2 limes
1 jalapeño pepper
1 Thai chili
1/2 teaspoon dried caraway seeds
2 teaspoons cumin powder
2 teaspoons cayenne powder
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons dried tarragon

1) Roast the poblanos and red peppers at 450 degrees. Roast them until the skins are blackened and blistered (this can also be done under a broiler or over a grill or gas flame). Put them in a plastic bag and let them steam for 10-15 minutes. Remove skin and seeds. Use rubber gloves if the peppers have any heat to them as the oils will burn your hands.
2) Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until desired consistency.

Judges’ comments: Perfection on a chip. Most original, balanced. Fresh, complex, and feisty!


2nd Place: Alyson Baer
“Grand Canyon Salsa”

1 tomato
2 Roma tomatoes
2 jalapeños
1/4 cup cilantro
Juice of 1/2 large lime
3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 white onion
3/4 teaspoon smoked alderwood salt
1/2 teaspoon Hatch green chile powder
Mesquite wood chips

1) Place mesquite chips in a small aluminum pan and nestle in the bottom of a grill, taking the grate off that side of the grill. Preheat grill to medium heat and close the lid.

2) Cut stems off the jalapeños and peel the white onion. Cut the white onion into quarters and place on a baking sheet along with the unpeeled garlic cloves. Set oven on broil and place baking sheet with onion and garlic on top oven rack under the broiler. Broil garlic for 3 minutes and take off baking sheet to cool. Flip onion pieces over and continue broiling for 4-5 more minutes, or until there is char on the outer edges of the onion pieces. Take out of oven and set aside to cool. Pop garlic out of skins once cool.

3) When grill is hot, roast tomatoes and jalapeños, all kept whole, on the remaining grate for about 10 minutes with the grill lid closed, until there is a nice sear on the outsides. Take off grill and set aside briefly to cool.

4) Take cooked ingredients and place in a food processor. Add cilantro, alderwood salt, lime juice, and green chile power and pulse until well chopped and blended, taking care not to purée mix entirely.

5) Pour into bowl and enjoy.

Judges’ comments: A burst of summertime. Salsa Garden Sun Chips in Salsa Form. Garden fresh.


3rd Place: Terry Cox
“Smokey Salsa”

10 cups diced tomatoes
2 cups diced ancho peppers
2 cups diced onions
4 jalapeños, seeded and chopped
4 green Anaheim peppers
2 smoked ancho peppers
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
Lime juice from 1 lime

Note: Exact directions for these ingredients were missing. Christine Barbour suggests puréeing the ingredients in a blender then simmering the mixture over medium heat until salsa has thickened and the flavors have melded. Simmer about 20-30 minutes.

Judges’ comments: Sweet blazing inferno. Great sweet and Chipotle Meco flavor. Candied fire.