Base:salsa web

2 tblsp. olive oil in saute pan
4 cloves garlic – chopped
1 habanero chili (or 3 Thai chilis…or any type / combination of hot peppers that you like) – finely chopped

Saute garlic and peppers in oil just long enough that you start to smell the aromas
(garlic should be slightly browned …turn off heat before it burns).  Remove from heat.

to the sauted oil, garlic & peppers add

1 can tomato sauce – set aside to cool

4 stalks celery
1 large yellow or white onion
1 carrot
3 or 4 bell peppers
6 or more large fresh tomatoes
2 bunches fresh cilantro
juice and zest from 5 limes
salt & pepper to taste
1 tblsp. cumin seeds

Pour sauce base over chopped vegetables and mix.

Great freshly made…but even better after sitting over night!

Lisa’s notes:  Salsa…. I have been known to eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  I love mexican food and can tell in the first few moments if a restaurant is good by their salsa; if it is awesome, then the rest of the food usually is too.

My favorite salsa of all time is Casa Lupe’s.  My parents first took me to a restaurant that was in Gridley, CA when I was a child. Since then I have eaten mexican food all over and have yet to discover a salsa that’s better.  ….I have often contemplated applying for a job there so I could learn their salsa secrets!  This recipe is the culmination of many years of experimentation in attempts to match Casa Lupe’s awesome salsa.

8 thoughts on “Salsa

  1. I agree with you– Casa Lupe Salsa is the best I have ever tasted as well.

    When there was Hamilton City Casa Lupe (before the Chico site opened, now closed)…there were coupons in the weekly alternative paper in 1978-79: two dinners (the “special de la Casa”) and two tecate beer (with lime) for two– out the door for less than five dollars. I used to drive from Chico to Hamilton City 2-3 times a week (as long as I had a coupon). Casa Lupe was a staple in my diet from 1978-1983.

    I’d eat at the Gridley site when coming back to University from home. Now I live in Sacramento, the closest one is Yuba City… Chico site is closed, Hamilton City site is closed. The rumors of years ago say it had to do with IRS issues/bankrupcy/not paying taxes, etc.

    Who knows what is true about their demise? I just know that their salsa is the best fresh salsa I ever tasted…and have tried, like you, for years to recreate it…I’m going to try your recipe BUT without the bell peppers– Never a taste/crunch I ever would include since I never tasted it…and I ate MANY MANY bowls— and I poured over the items/ingredients each time I took a bite.

    Other than that… your recipe looks to be correct (I wish you’d not said “one can of tomato sauce” and had used a real measurement like 6oz (since tomato sauce comes in various sizes, 6oz, 24oz, etc.))

    I made “salsa” during my 18 months in Thailand, using Thai chilis– normally I use serrano (not jalapeno, I want hot) chilis. The thing I noticed on the Casa Lupe Salsa was their HEAVY use of course ground black pepper— I could always see a layer of it on the bottom of the bowl when I had finished the salsa.

    • Hi Mitchell ~

      Thanks for the response and the reminiscing! I was VERY sad to see the Hamilton City and Chico locations go. (I had not heard about the possible tax issues.)

      Whenever I drive between Nevada City and Redding, the Gridley location is a lunch stop along the way. On the way back home, it’s a dinner ‘to-go’ stop. Special de la Casa is usually what I order 90% of the time. I pour salsa over it in such quantities that it is more like a soup.

      Just recently, I learned that they will sell to-go salsa in a half gallon size!

      When you mentioned the pepper floating at the bottom, I realized that I’ve never tried the recipe with quite so much pepper. Next time I make it, I’m going to try that.

      If you are ever in the Auburn area, El Charro Market (3740 Grass Valley, Hwy. #4, Auburn 95602 530-885-2001) has REALLY good fresh pico de gallo & guacamole. Since we share similar salsa tastes, I’m confident that you’ll like that too.



  2. Dear Lisa,
    Thank you so much for focusing on the positives of what I wrote rather than my negatives. Kudos to you.

    The Casa Lupe Salsa made it into markets in Chico– never as good as what I ate in the restaurant, guess it was because it was not freshly made and by that I mean, “made that day”.

    Thank you for your Auburn suggestions. I will keep them in mind when on I-80 to Reno.

    Your site, this place to record my memories, your recipe and your memories…such a gift. Maybe others will stumble across it as did I.

    (I wasn’t notififed via email you had replied though I had done all that I thought was needed– However I had kept the site open…then refreshed the page…otherwise I’d have never read your sweet reply- Not your fault but that of wordpress I think)

    Again, thanks for the Auburn info…

    PS Again I agree with you: Salsa– breakfast, lunch, brunch, dinner, supper, midnight snack…use celery sticks if no tortillas… learn to make your own tortillas…as long as you have flour and water or corn meal…then you can make your own maza for tamales.

    My first encounter with “tamales” was in the 60’s with the Hormel brand “canned” tamales, wrapped in paper. My father loved them…I hated them…they were mush.

    Until one day in1970… an older lady friend (she was 29, my high school librarian, I was 15) drove me, in her red/white VW Van to a place in Modesto called “Over the Waves” (it was a home-based business, no longer extant) for a TAMALE…I write it in capital letters because it was SO BIG. It was 4-5 in. in diameter, hand made, steamed and wrapped in cornhusk…so large it needed to be tied with cotton string at both ends. NOW THAT WAS A TAMALE I will never forget. That was when I understood that tamales could be really good.

    I’ve since attended at Christmas tamale party, then made my own, not as large…but have varied the maza by adding herbs… and have converted those who thought they didn’t like tamales into those who say to me, “if they were all like yours, I’d like them”.

    • Ooooohhh…. I remember those canned tamales. Soft, smooshy and flavorless. When I ate them at age ten, I took it for what it was….never realizing it was supposed to taste like tamales. Ew.

      I have also experimented with real tamale making, but have not, yet, achieved success in my estimation. I’ve added lime juice, zest, and herbs to the masa…but no matter what I do, it still tastes ‘blah.’ *This may have something to do with the amount of fat or oil it absorbs while steaming.

      I have a Boiled & Spiced Citrus Pork (or chicken) recipe that would probably be really good for the inside. The idea of making giant ones tied with string sounds like a challenge that I would be up for.

  3. Lisa- I grew up in Gridley Ca. Going to Casa Lupe was such a treat! I agree that the salsa is the best I’ve ever tasted. Can’t wait to try your version!

  4. Hi!
    Just made this salsa (subbed the bell peppers for extra tomatoes because I didn’t have any) and it is fabulous!! Definitely reminds me of Casa Lupe’s salsa, which is exactly what I was after. Thank you for this wonderful recipe!!

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