When your garden gives you tomatoes, make salsa. All the gathered vegetables look so nice and ripe and neat before you begin, and then you create a gigantic mess of fruits and vegetables with skins and seeds to be removed, dripping their juices before you get them all into the bowl, but once it’s done and all cleaned up, there it is, conveniently waiting to be used on fajitas or scrambled eggs, with black beans or chips, or wherever you can imagine.
Peach Tomato Salsa
A salsa recipe is pretty much all prep. You’re making a condiment to use in a variety of ways from the star of the show to a small, hidden element. I decided to make a peach salsa because they are also ripe now and it seemed like a nice twist on the traditional salsa flavors. Let’s start with my ingredients:
7 tomatoes (1 orange, low-acid and 1 plum)—this is just what I happened to have gathered from the garden, but if tomatoes are the main feature of your salsa, the number of tomatoes will determine your quantity of salsa
2 shallots, minced
zest and juice of one lime
1-2 teaspoons salt
1 large garlic bulb, roasted with olive oil
1 orange bell pepper, 1 jalapeno pepper, 1 Anaheim pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped
1/4-1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
2 medium yellow-flesh peaches, peeled and diced
Just about everything needs to be peeled in this dish, but not necessarily at the same time. Here’s what I did:
- Tomatoes: Using the parboil/ice water method, I peeled the tomatoes and chopped them, seeds and all and added to mixing bowl. Drop tomatoes in boiling water and remove as soon as the skin splits to a bowl of ice water. The skins will slip off. Some recipes don’t call for doing anything but chopping to the tomatoes. I think that works best for a fresh salsa that does not sit and marinate for a lengthy period. Most recipes suggest peeling, but then seeding is the next option. I did not seed my tomatoes and the salsa was consequently very liquid. I strained it after it had chilled, but you might not care, or you might decide to pulse it in a blender. I would probably seed them in a fresher salsa or if your family has a problem with seeds.
- I roasted the garlic and peppers all at once in a 350° oven, the garlic in olive oil, gathered in a foil purse, and the peppers brushed with olive oil spread out on the cooking sheet. The peppers were charred and ready to peel, seed, and chop in about a half hour, but I did have to turn them a few times. I removed the garlic from the oven after doing that and pressed out the garlic cloves, mashing them into a paste. I wanted roasted flavors instead of so many raw flavors and textures in this salsa.
- I used shallots instead of onion for a milder onion flavor. I suppose you could roast onions with the other roasted vegetables, too.
- I’m not a great fan of cilantro, but I think salsa needs that flavor. Chop the cilantro to your taste. I probably used close to a half cup, and less would have been fine with me. There are probably more sites about hating the taste of cilantro than loving it. I sympathize. Here’s one: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/09/14/161057954/love-to-hate-cilantro-its-in-your-genes-and-maybe-in-your-head
- Peaches can be peeled with a paring knife, but if they are not very ripe, you can use the same parboil/ice water method that you use for the tomatoes. Mine were just ripe, but not soft and juicy. After dicing them to about 1/4 inch, I put the bowl in the microwave for 1 minute to soften them and release a little of their juices and sweetness.
So, it’s all prep and everything goes into one bowl and then into the fridge to chill and marinate. As I said, I strained mine after that. Last night we ate it on chicken fajitas with lettuce and avocado. Today, I’m cooking black beans to mix with the remaining salsa for a side dish—for me, the main dish.