Double Take salsas are made for more than chips. I use them as a base for chili, to fill tacos and burritos, toss into a salad, and serve as a side dish. Far more than the sum of tomatoes and peppers, they bring summer’s flavors into my kitchen. So it makes sense that the company’s story begins in an Edina backyard.
About eight years ago, Double Take Salsa’s founder, Bernie Dahlin, then a banker at Wells Fargo, fell for the flavor of local heirloom tomatoes.
“But when I realized the price of a single tomato was more than the price of one plant, I thought, ‘This is crazy, I’ll grow my own.’ ”
He did. Then he was faced with a bumper crop, so he began making salsas in many different blends. Dahlin took them to work and gave them to friends, who in turn encouraged him to sell the product. And he did, every weekend at the Linden Hills and Minneapolis farmers markets.
“By 2014, I’d run out of space in my own garden, so I leased land from a friend across the border in Wisconsin and planted 1,000 different kinds of tomatoes and peppers,” he said.
“Then, to ramp up my salsa production, I moved out of my own kitchen to City Foods Studio, a commercial space in Minneapolis. At that point, the whole thing was a 24/7 operation [driving to and from the farm, gardening, cooking and packaging salsa]. I realized that I had to decide if I wanted to farm or make sauce. I couldn’t do it all.”
In 2015, Dahlin contracted with Sogn Valley Farms of Cannon Falls, Minn., to source his fresh peppers, tomatoes, corn and herbs.
“I decided to focus all my attention to making salsa and hot sauces. You really need to be 100 percent present during production,” Dahlin said.
His original salsa — Double Take Machismo — is a smoky-sweet blend of chipotles with an assertive kick. A bit tamer, the Machismo Medium salsa is slightly sweeter and smokier.
My favorite, Aces & Eights salsa, blends sweet corn with roasted orange bell peppers and green onions, and gets a jolt from jalapeño and habañero chiles. It’s terrific on avocado and cheese sandwiches or swirled into tomato bisque.
The Bewitched black bean salsa makes a fine chili, served with a dollop of sour cream, or when thinned with stock it’s a black bean soup. Pile it on rice, then top with cheese and cilantro for a light meal.
Made in small batches, without stabilizers or preservatives, Double Take salsas’ 12-ounce jars are priced around $9 and can be found in most area grocery stores, all Twin Cities food co-ops and online at doubletakesalsa.com.