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[Photograph: Lisa Fain/The Homesick Texan]

A few months ago, I came across a tomato-based salsa at a Mexican restaurant that I couldn't stop dipping my tortilla chips in. It had all the major salsa players: tomatoes, onions and chiles. But there was something a little different about this salsa, a spice or herb that I couldn't put my finger on.

It added a touch of earthiness, a little smokiness? What could it be? I finally coaxed it out of our waiter. Cinnamon. Genius.

It made me ponder other secret ingredients to elevate salsa. Cumin, smoked paprika or a touch of oregano? Specific dried chiles, ground pumpkin seeds or roasted garlic?

So what's your secret salsa ingredient?

Some Salsa Recipes We Dig

About the author: Andrea Lynn is a freelance writer/ recipe developer who writes about spicy and Southern food. Her favorite chile is a tie between the mild yet flavorful poblano and the mighty, reliable fire of the serrano. Follow her on Twitter at Alynn27 or get more info at andrealynnfoodwriter.com.

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