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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Garden Fresh Salsa


After a slow start, my little garden is producing a good crop of tomatoes each day. I planted 6 varieties, including an heirloom plum type tomato (currently sprawling across a large part of the raspberries, even though I continuously tie these back to their stakes), a single grape tomato plant, and both yellow and red medium to large sized tomatoes.

Very conveniently, HyVee, a regional grocery chain here in the upper Midwest, is featuring their annual Hatch chili pepper sale, with these big beautiful peppers only 99 cents a pound. Cilantro and great big onions are available at a good price at the farmers' markets as well as in most of the grocery stores. So...

Definitely time for salsa.

Start out with the basic mixture and then consider some of the add-ins noted at the end of the recipe.  Use the salsa as a classic dip with tortilla chips or serve it with grilled fish or chicken. Bake a potato in the microwave or on the grill and top with plain yogurt and a generous dollop of this salsa, and you have a pretty balanced meal all in one dish.

If you make this an hour or two before serving, the flavors will blend a bit more, but you may find it impossible to wait so long before trying it out.

Garden Fresh Salsa

3 c coarsely chopped tomatoes--no need to peel
1 c diced white or sweet onion
1 c diced green chilies--remove the inner ribs and seeds for mild salsa; leave some of the ribs if you want more heat
2 cloves garlic, minced, or to taste
1/2 t salt
1 T lemon juice
1 t cumin, or to taste

 















Combine all ingredients, stir, and chill for an
hour or so to allow flavors to blend. However, if you can't wait, can be served immediately.


Variations

1.  Add one or more of the following to the basic salsa:
1 c corn--these can be uncooked or cooked kernels cut off the cob or even frozen or well-drained canned corn
1 to 2 c black beans, drained--if using beans that were cooked without salt, taste for seasoning after adding
1 c diced avocado--if using this, the salsa should be served the same day

2.. Stir 1 to 2 cups of salsa into 2 cups of yogurt or light sour cream. Taste for seasoning and serve as a dip with chips or fresh vegetables.

3.  The chilies can be combined or replaced  with other varieties of peppers to increase the heat. For a very mild salsa, use bell peppers instead of the chiles. This is especially colorful (and relatively sweet) using red bell peppers and yellow tomatoes or yellow bell peppers and red tomatoes.

...and a special bonus:  Gazpacho for one 

Garden tomatoes are notorious for being extra sweet and juicy, so you could end with a lot of juice in the bottom of the dish after serving this as a dip. A wonderful use for this flavorful leftover is to add about an equal amount of peeled and diced cucumber to the juice in the blender, throw in an ice cube or two, and blend until smooth. Add in a bit more salt and hot sauce to taste.

...and an even easier way to use up those juices: Chill and drink just as you would tomato juice or a V-8. Just, whatever you do, don't throw that delightful liquid away!








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