Tacos. A cluster of memories from my childhood can be conjured from that single word. Each school year on the first night of summer we always had a big taco feast. Mixed in with the euphoria of a long vacation ahead was the smell of Old El Paso and the crunch of taco shells. These are golden memories and much of the sparkle surrounds the vision of my parents—and later my brothers, too—working together to prep all the components. When I was too little to help, I can remember sitting at the bar in my parent’s kitchen watching my dad grate cheese. He’d gather a little pile of it into a small ball and gave it to me as a treat. It was a simple gesture, but one that captures what it was like to be my father’s daughter. He had a knack for being in the moment and always seemed to know just how to make a happy moment even better for an excited kid.
Now when Mr. L and I make tacos for two I always steal a little piece of cheese while we cook. The cast of characters is different—fish instead of beef, cabbage instead of lettuce, and soft corn tortillas rather than crunchy—but the story feels the same. It’s taco night!
Homemade Restaurant-Style Salsa
This salsa always hits the spot and is surprisingly made with good ol’ Rotel. Rotel has a ton of flavor and heat. Get a can of mild Rotel if serving this to children or the faint of heart. All of these ingredients can be tweaked to taste and I have made it without the garlic and with dried cilantro in desperate times.
1 can Rotel diced tomatoes with chiles
1 small garlic clove, coarsely chopped
Handful of cilantro leaves (or to taste)
Juice from half a lime or 1 Tbsp. bottle lime juice
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 cup chopped onion
In a small food processor or blender add the can of Rotel, the garlic, cilantro, lime juice, and salt. Whirl together to puree the tomatoes and chop the garlic and cilantro. Taste and add more cilantro, lime juice, or salt. Pour into a serving bowl or storage container and stir in the chop onion. If you have the time, cover and refrigerate the salsa for 30 minutes or more to allow the flavors to meld.