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Fresh salsa. January 26, 2010

Posted by ourfriendben in homesteading, recipes, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. Our friend Ben spilled the beans (not literally, thank goodness) about my buying a magazine of Mexican recipes on our recent trip down South. Reading through the recipes, the magazine reminded me how easy it was to make fresh salsa.

As it happened, I’d picked up a container of fresh salsa from our local grocery to go with our refried beans and toppings before we’d left for our mini-vacation, and there was still a bit left when we returned. This grocery makes perfectly good, reasonably priced fresh salsa, great for dips, pasta sauces, salad toppings, Mexican dishes (especially tacos and quesadillas), and a personal favorite, as a layer on a pizza crust to add crunch to the finished pizza.

Checking the ingredients list, I saw tomato, cucumber, green pepper, red pepper, red onion, cilantro, lime juice, tomato juice, garlic, poblano pepper, serrano pepper, and salt. That certainly packs a lot of flavor at 5 calories per 2-tablespoon serving! Paging back through my recipe archives, I saw that lots of other “fresh” salsas also included tomato juice or tomato sauce, though as far as I could tell, cucumber was unique to this version (most others substituted green onions, aka scallions).

Fresh salsa (salsa fresca) is delicious and forgiving, so you can modify it to suit your taste or your dish. My own recipe is a no-brainer:

         Silence’s Salsa Fresca

2 large firm-ripe tomatoes or 5 ripe paste tomatoes, diced

1 large green, yellow, or orange bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced

1 large sweet onion (Vidalia, WallaWalla, or 1015 type), peeled and diced

3-5 scallions (green onions), trimmed and minced

1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped

juice of 1 lemon, seeded and squeezed

1 fresh jalapeno pepper, cored, seeded, and minced

1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds or 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

salt and pepper to taste

Mix all together and refrigerate overnight to give flavors a chance to blend.

Variations? You betcha.

* Substitute lime, orange, or even grapefruit juice for the lemon juice if you’d like a different twist on an old favorite.

* Replace the tomatoes with 6 to 8 fresh tomatillos, husked, rinsed, cored, and chopped, or one 11- to 12-ounce can tomatillos, rinsed and drained, for fresh salsa verde.

* Replace the tomatoes with 1 1/2 cups chopped fresh, peeled peaches, mangoes, plums, pineapple, papaya, or crisp green apple (such as ‘Granny Smith’) for a fresh fruit salsa.

 * Replace the lemon with fresh-squeezed lime juice, add a splash of tequila, and stir in a teaspoon of brown sugar for “Salsa Margarita.” Ole!

* Replace the jalapeno with 2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, or one 4-ounce can diced green chile peppers, drained.

* Replace the sweet onion with a red (Spanish) onion.

* Add canned black or pinto beans, canned, frozen, or cut-off-the-cob corn kernels, chopped roasted red peppers, nopalitos (diced fresh or canned opuntia catcus pads), even fresh coconut and/or underripe bananas or diced plantains to suit your personal taste. I can imagine salsas with fresh chopped grapes, Mandarin orange or blood orange segments, and/or pomegranates. Anything goes!

Sheesh. I can picture a salsa with orange marmalade, sweet onions, lime juice, and pomegranates served over cornmeal tortillas with refried beans and lots of cheese—maybe queso fresco and crumbled feta or even shredded pepper Jack—plus an abundance of shredded Romaine lettuce, paste tomatoes, and sliced black olives as toppings. Yum, I think I have to go see what’s in the fridge now… 

         ‘Til next time,

                        Silence

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Comments»

1. Becca - January 27, 2010

Sounds lovely. I think we’re all pining for spring and our nightshade fruits, eh? I have the cilantro and onions in the garden, peppers in the greenhouse–but no decent tomatoes for miles and miles! I will be whipping up your recipe soon, I hope. :)

Sigh. I envy you your cilantro, Becca!!! I’m planning to sow lots and lots this spring! (And while salsa may be beyond you now, you can always use that cilantro in wonderful, warming Indian dishes!)

2. Daphne - January 27, 2010

I love salsas of all kinds. Sometimes I wonder what the difference between a salad and a salsa is. I’ve made a nice apple salsa in the past, but I ate it like a salad. The same with black bean salsas.

That’s an excellent point, Daphne, at least where uncooked salsas are concerned! And please post your apple salsa recipe—that sounds wonderful!


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