Sarah Galluzzo really believes in the versatility of her homemade salsa. "Oh, I'll throw it in anything from coleslaw to Asian dishes," she said. The Fairfield resident likes to push the boundaries of how to use the tomato-based dip, and she posts the results on her website. Most recently, she's been toying with salsa-based dessert concoctions.
Galluzzo's salsa was famous at her neighborhood barbeques, family get-togethers and everywhere else she went. So she decided to open a company to make her fresh, local, organic salsa available to all the friends and family who were always asking for the recipe or for jars of the tasty, tangy stuff. "I thought I could merge my interest in starting a small business with something I already loved doing," she said of the early days of her business.
She founded GourGanics three years ago with an ethos of using fresh, organic tomatoes and jalapeños from Connecticut farms — many jarred salsas use canned tomatoes — to create the ultimate chip dip.
Galluzzo swears that GourGanics makes an excellent base for exotic recipes from Salsa Pulled Pork with Mango to Tofu Stroganoff. She even suggests adding salsa to her Indian Spicy Curried Kati Rolls and Thai Tom Yum Soup. I was skeptical of cooking with salsa so I tried a simple recipe, using it as a simmer sauce in my own rarely used kitchen. Twenty minutes later, I had a tofu and veggie-laden burrito filling that tasted like I'd spent hours in the kitchen. Which, thankfully, I had not.
Because she uses only local produce, Galluzzo only jars in the summer, with most of her tomatoes coming from Urban Oaks Farm in New Britain. Her next jarring will be in August at the commercial kitchen she now uses.
A few years ago, when the business was just starting out, she'd get all her friends together in the summer for months. "It was months of garlic peeling, onion chopping and all the other steps," says Galluzzo. "We had fun, but it could be grueling." Now, she gathers a staff of 15 for just a few days of work using professional equipment.
What makes her salsa different, in her opinion, is that she takes the time to incorporate extra steps, like toasting the spices and roasting the garlic. She also took the extra time to get her product approved to bear the USDA Organic seal and ensures that it is gluten-free as well.
Aside from the summer's salsa production days, the GourGanics staff is just Galluzzo herself, placing, marketing and dreaming about the product. She is always looking to improve its taste, get it distributed to more places and planning for the future.
When the time is right she wants to expand the line, which is currently only mild and spicy salsas; she is considering adding a cranberry jalapeño sandwich spread and a tomatillo salsa. For now, she is getting the word out in whatever way she can. She often reaches out to local foodies on Facebook, performs in-store demos and recently filmed a few cooking segments for Channel 12 News on different ways to use salsa in the kitchen.
People seem to be responding to her "fresh food in a jar" mantra.
You can pick up GourGanics at about 20 locations statewide, from Fairfield's The Pantry To New Canaan's Walter Scott's Market. Galluzzo hopes to have it available at Whole Foods Markets soon.
Find out about demos, locations, recipes and more at http://www.GourGanics.com