Salsa Lisa vs. Gimemo vs. Snappy Dog Salsas: Food Fight
We here at Hot Dish are partial to making our own salsa--tomatillos, red onion, garlic, cilantro, and lime, with a few pulses in the food processor--but sometimes, in a pinch, we'll pick up a jar of the stuff. A lot of the big supermarket brands always taste so flat, like the veggies have been cooked within an inch of their lives. Fortunately, these three locally made salsas pack a lot more punch: the original Minnesota-made salsa, Salsa Lisa, and two newcomers, Gimemo and Snappy Dog. In honor of National Salsa Month, we put 'em to a taste-off: Here's how they handled the heat.
Salsa Lisa The Backstory: Nearly two decades ago, Lisa Nicholson was a student with a prolific tomato garden who turned some of the spoils into salsa and sold it at the Minneapolis Farmer's Market. Recently, the California food company Calavo Growers Inc. bought a majority of the company, though Nicholson still oversees manufacturing operations and product development. The salsa continues to be made in St. Paul and is distributed in 10 states; a national rollout is expected. Where to buy: Cub Foods, Kowalski's, Target, co-ops. A 16 oz. jar costs about $4. Taste: Salsa Lisa is one of the few salsas sold in the refrigerator case, and it has a fresh, gazpacho-like quality to it. The taste is tomato heavy and fairly straightforward--almost like pasta sauce with a little jalapeno tossed in. The Hot version is not very hot.
Gimemo Salsa The Backstory: Blaine Isker started Gimemo Foods in 2007 and named the company after his granddaughter, Marueen, or "Mo." Where to buy: A few co-ops, soon to arrive in supermarkets. A 16 oz. jars costs about $6. Taste: The predominance of green onion, chili powder, and cumin give Gimemo a strong south-of-the-border flavor. In some ways, it resembles a vegetable-only vegetarian chili, which isn't surprising given that Isker soon plans to launch a meatless chili sold in quart mason jars. The Not So Hot version is exactly that.
Snappy Dog The Backstory: Dave Merten lost his used car dealership in 2007, so decided to launch his own salsa business. Merten got his start selling at the St. Paul Farmer's Market and buys some of his ingredients there. Where to buy: Whole Foods, some Lunds and Byerly's stores, Golden Fig, some Kowalski's. Merten also sells at the St. Paul Farmers Market every weekend. A 16 oz. jar costs about $5. Taste: Snappy Dog has the most striking taste, with its sweet/sour punch that's heavy on the vinegar, a little suggestive of bbq sauce. The Medium version has a medium heat level.
The Winner: The texture and liquid-to-chunk ratios were all fairly comparable, so the thing that really distinguishes each salsa is its distinct flavor profile. All the salsas were sampled solo (ever eaten salsa straight from the jar with a spoon? it's kinda weird...), so in absolute terms, we were most intrigued by the sweet/sour thing going on with the Snappy Dog, followed by the Mexican seasoning of Gimemo. Compared to the other two, Salsa Lisa kind of faded into the background. That said, while Snappy Dog might make the most sense on a corn chip, Gimemo could be the best partner for huevos rancheros, and Salsa Lisa for crock pot chicken. We'll let you determine those for yourselves. Happy salsa eating!
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