Salsa Vaquera (VA-KAY-RA), or "Cowboy Salsa" adds a dash of the wild west to your Mexican meal. With tomato, black beans, corn, jalapeno and cracked black pepper, this hearty salsa is delicious on top of nachos, in your burrito, spooned over a taco, or eaten with a handful of Tio Pablo Totopito Tortilla Chips.
Salsa is rather hit and miss with me. I hate the creamy ones you get in a packet I find they add no value what-so-ever. As we have a lot of Italian and Mexican meals as they are nice and quick and usually include resh ingredients. The rest of the family load up their burritos or nachos with salsa where as I prefer just plain old sour cream.
There have been cases where I have enjoyed Salsa. Its when its chunky and you can actually see and taste the item so when this item came up for review claiming it is chunky and mild with black beans and corn I jumped at the opportunity, and, I have to say it did not disappoint. The jar was a decent size and from the outside of the jar you could see corn pieces so that was promising. The decoration on the jar was rather festive and the greens and red reminded of a Mexican party so ticked all the right boxes.
Opening the jar I was really surprised at the site. The tomatoe looked big bite size, actual whole corn cobs, onions you could actually see, whole beans - the whole thing was a thing of beauty. I took a Tio Pablo authentic Corn Tortilla Chip and was a bit surprised how runny it was so gave a quick stir and tried again and had mouth explosion. It had enough heat and enough flavour to blow my mouth. I had a couple more and thought better stop before I finish as wanted some on the Nachos.
Making Nachos the same way I usually do I realised I usually add a can of Watties mild Beans and Corn to give extra flavour so decided not to add this and instead made rather plain. I just made with onions and a can of Watties Mexican Tomatoes. Added the cheese and sour cream on top of the Tio Pablo chips (which only I had the rest of the family had different variety with a few of these added). I put a generous amount of salsa on top of the plates and sat down to enjoy a different meal.
I really did enjoy this. I loved the chunky ingredients added into mixture which would of been the same really if had added the can the only difference was there was a little bit more heat. Realistically I do enjoy this salsa but looking at the price kind of scared me. I am not sure what Salsa usually costs as we usually get in the prepacks but was expecting more around the $5 margin. I did like and would consider getting if was on special or if had a real craving for it. But not sure if will buy on a regular basis.
After using rather a lot for dinner we probably have one more serving each so again not sure about value for money but definitely my favourite salsa that I have ever experienced. The rest of the family also agreed the salsa was way better than what they usually have, so maybe might bite the bullet and buy again cause as hubby says 'it is very fresh tasting and the beans and corn give a surprising element to it would be great as a snack one night instead of wackers and chips'.
Now let's just get this out of the way as a bit of a disclaimer. In general, I don't like the texture of tomatoes. I don't mind if they are fresh, firm and sliced, but any time that fleshy texture comes through, it's not for me. In fact, while I love Watties Chilli Beans, I never get the "medium" variety specifically because it includes salsa with tomatoes and sweetcorn. Which is a bit odd because I love the flavour of hot salsa with my corn chips (I will usually just dip it in and shake off the fleshy bits.
So I stepped out of my comfort zone a bit with this product. I didn't realise it was the chunky variety until it turned up at my door (probably because the text on the label is so small). Opening the pack, it was immediately obvious that dipping and shaking off the chunkiness wouldn't work. This product is very well blended, which makes it much less watery. This is probably also helped by the presence of the black beans in the mix which would absorb much of the excess moisture.
The beans actually help to mask the chunkiness of the tomatoes, giving it a much more pleasing texture. The ingredients are also well mulched which makes the pieces smaller, and therefore easier to scoop. I've seen many people scooping other brands of salsa, and the options for quantity on your chip generally come down to either too much or not enough. The finer level of chunkiness gives much greater control.
But the most important aspect of this product is, of course, the taste. This product works well. The tomato flavour is enjoyable, and the presence of sweetcorn gives the whole batch a refreshing sweetness to it. I was pleasantly surprised by this product; good flavour, nice consistency, and texture. The only real downside is the price. Compared to similar products from other brands, this product is double the price. Personally, I don't think I love salsa enough to really warrant paying that much extra, but for those that do love their salsa's, this could definitely make a solid addition for a treat every once in a while.
Mr Nine got very excited when he saw the jar this product was packed in as we had been talking about everyday words in other languages, so he recognised the word Tio. This led to a whole discussion about Spanish and Mexican cuisine, and how Paul (one of his school friends) would be Pablo in Spanish! This was before we had so much as opened the lid to sample the contents, but it does show what thoughtfully designed packaging can achieve. Mr Nine was so chuffed to realise he was eating Uncle Paul for dinner that it did not occur to him that he might not actually like the contents.
Once we had taken the lid off, Mr Nine tasted a little and declared that it was ok - it was slightly too spicy for him, but he liked the colours in the jar and once he had tried a little with a potato crisp rather than on its own he found it was quite acceptable. The whole mix exudes colour - reds, yellows and greens, with the darker shades of the black beans adding interest. The adults liked the sophisticated mixture of flavours and textures while the children picked out individual items so they could assess them separately. At one stage, Miss Seven had lined up several different items on her plate so she could see what she was eating - but, as her mother said, it meant that when the pieces were large you could pick out something if you did not like it! However, like her brother, Miss Seven did like it all.
We tried the first half of the jar as a dip with potato chips and vegetable sticks (carrot and celery). The second half we served on top of some nacho chips with added vege mince, sliced avocado, sour cream, and grated cheese. The children enjoyed it like this, but the adults thought it needed more heat. It does contain spices like black pepper and jalapeno, but we found it lacking in flavour. We compensated by adding a shake of hot sauce to our own portions. Having said that, however, it is easier to add heat than to remove it. When you are feeding a group of people which includes children, it is probably better to err on the mild side so they can eat it too.
I thought the price was quite high for a product like this, so would rank it in the special-occasion group rather than as an everyday purchase. However, it is a highly attractive item, so much so that it would make a great gift for a special occasion. It is obvious that a lot of time and effort has gone into the design of the label, using colours which reflect the contents, and as Mr Nine would agree, an eye-catching label is going to ensure that the product is noticed on the shelf.
The name "salsa" can be applied to a wide variety of dishes. In some ways, it is the Mexican version of "salad" in that it doesn't apply to one thing, but a family of things that share common purpose rather than common taste. Because of that, I have learned not to assume anything about a dish with that mentioned in the description. It could be a red salsa - most likely based on tomato - or a salsa verde - which has a lot of green herbs and veges in it - or for that matter a salsa Vaquera - with it's mild, chunky texture and the inclusion of black beans and corn.
So it was with great curiosity that I dug a Totopitos corn chip into the jar and scooped out a pile of this delightful dish. I had plans to use it on some nachos, or in a taco or burrito... but that wasn't to be. As I sat and pondered the flavours and nuances of texture, I realised that I had absent-mindedly scoffed down the whole jar, and came to awareness in the process of scraping a bare corn chip around an empty jar seeking the last molecules of salsa clinging desperately to the glass. This sort of thing doesn't happen often any more, which immediately confirmed that this was a seriously high-quality flavour.
However, it also brought home that unless you are very careful, this could become quite costly very quickly - if I had the funds to spare, I daresay I would be buying this in bulk-boxes so I always had plenty on demand. I can easily see this being used in one of my burrito meals, or being mixed with mince and cheese to fill enchiladas. I can also see it making a rich, deep flavour base for a savoury mince dish.
Overall, this one is a mixed blessing for me. It's not the cheapest - because of the high quality - but it's so very more'ish. Would I buy it again? In a heartbeat, if the time was right. But it's not something I would buy regularly, despite wanting to.
I don't feel there are a lot of options out there in this country for salsa. I feel El Paso has the market. At least that what I've seen on the shelves where I shop. So when I saw Tio Pablo's salsa I was sold. I'm very bored with El Paso and keen to try something different. Mild salsa is my jam. I'm not a burn your mouth so you can't taste flavors kinda gal. I don't like things too complicated. So when I could try Tia Pablo's Tortilla Chips I was all in.
The label on the jar says black bean and corn which is a treat. I've made homemade salsa before and have always enjoyed loads of chunks. Upon opening the jar I could already see the corn at the top; big plus. The flavor is there and the chunks are definitely there. Man this stuff is a treat compared to the goop other brands are. You know what you're eating in every bite. The spice level is good too. Exactly what mild should be. I'm very keen to try this on taco night! I like to add my salsa to the meat I'm cooking and less of the seasoning they give you in the packets. Now if they could make a smooth version for my husband we'd be in business. We are on total opposite spectrum when it comes to salsa. I'm chunky and he's smooth.
I think this is going to be my go-to salsa from now on. Going to have to move taco night up in the week.
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