Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Summer Salsas by Tom

This summer we decided to grow some hot peppers as an experiment.  Earlier this spring, we bought a jalapeno plant and a garden salsa pepper plant, and brought them to the lake in pots.  Because of the above average heat we have been experiencing this summer, the plants have produced a multitude of peppers.  Now what to do with the hot peppers.  The answer:  make salsa.

Barbara received from her sister, Christine, a Mexican Cookery cookbook way back in 1984, and it is from this cookbook that I adapted the recipes for my two salsas.

Salsa #1:  Salsa Verde

The Ingredients - makes ~2 cups
  3 jalapeno peppers - stems removed but not the seeds
  1 lb fresh tomatillos
  5-6 large sprigs of cilantro
  1 garlic clove
  dash of salt

I had never worked with tomatillos before, so this was a new experience for me.  The tomatillo is a plant of the tomato family, which is surrounded by a paper-like husk.  It is often referred to as as a green tomato and is a staple of Mexican cuisine.  I found the tomatillos at Wegman's in the specialty produce section, not with other tomatoes.

The first step, then, in the preparation of the salsa and the tomatillos is to peel the paper-like husks from the tomatillos. 

Place the tomatillos in a large pan of cold water, and then bring the water to a boil.  Once the water is at a full boil, remove the pan from the heat and drain out the water.

Now just throw all of the ingredients into a food processor.  Pretty simple.

Basically you are pureeing the ingredients.  It is okay if there are some chunks in your salsa, but I made mine pretty smooth.

Pour into a serving bowl, salt to taste, cover and put in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight to let the flavors marry.  Serve with tortilla chips or use as a condiment with Mexican food.


Salsa #2:  Salsa Fresca

The Ingredients - makes ~2 cups

  4 medium sized tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  1/2 cup finely chopped onions
  1 jalapeno chile pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  2 tablespoons olive oil
  1 teaspoon vinegar
  1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
  1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  1 large garlic clove finely chopped
  1/2 teaspoon salt

This recipe is all about using the knife skills we learned at the New York State Finger Lakes Culinary Wine and Food Institute in Canandaigua, New York.  For example, we learned how to peel the skin off of a tomato.  (Cut the tomato into quarters, flatten skin side down, and then carefully slice the skin away.)  But an easier way to remove the skin is to immerse the tomato for 30 seconds in boiling water and then immerse into cold water.  The skin should peel right off.

In a medium bowl, add all of the ingredients, except the salt.  Is this easy or what!  Adjust the salt level to taste.  Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours before using to let the flavors marry and the dried oregano to hydrate a bit.  This is a nice light salsa.  Again serve with tortilla chips or as a condiment for Mexican dishes.

Note:  My salsa was just a little too runny for me.  The tomatoes I used were very juicy and they contributed more liquid than I ultimately wanted.  Next time I will look at removing some of the insides (seeds and watery components) if the tomatoes look too juicy and the mixture looks too watery.  I suppose you could try to strain out some of the liquid first, but you run the risk of removing some of the desired liquid components.


1 comment:

  1. I made this tonight because I got a food processor for christmas and I've been trying out things like this. =)

    I always add cumin to my salsas and guacamole. If I don't, it doesn't taste right to me. I usually add some cayenne pepper too instead of jalapeno because it's easier to control the spicyness.