Sunday, July 31, 2016

Fresh Tomato Salsa


                                                                                Western Salsa

   Come the end of July out here in the West, the gardens are full of goodness. Fresh tomatoes, sweet peppers, jalapenos, and early onions, and limes are ready to be made into a cool refreshing Fresh Garden Salsa.  How good it is to sit in the cool evenings under the stars and sip on our favorite evening drink and snack on my home-made Western Salsa and blue corn chips. 
   Our remaining cilantro is ready to be picked before turning to seed and giving us a harvest of coriander seeds to be used in pickles and stews. I planted a few new rows and tubs in the shaded areas for a later fall harvest. One can never have enough cilantro to garnish in salads and other favorite meals, like my Tex- Mex Meat Loaf. It just adds that extra interest and taste to the dish.

   I like to plant the heirloom Amish Paste Tomato. It’s like a Roma, but more blocky and meaty. It is one of my favorite for salsa.  I found a few places on line that that sells the seeds ,  this site has a little history of the tomato.  Then there is Burpee Seed Company, which most gardeners are familiar with  I personally purchase starts are our local nursery where they carry a large selection of heirloom variety vegetable and local native plants.

   When making my Western Salsa, I start out with ripe tomatoes, a few jalapeno peppers, onions, and a bunch of cilantro. I use my own home grown ingredients, but you can purchase yours.  The big difference is that I prefer the fresh picked ingredients, because it adds so much better flavor and texture.  My home grown limes, cilantro and tomatoes have such a different taste than store bought. Plus, I do not use any pesticides or other chemicals on our garden plants.

   The nice thing about this salsa is that it is a great base to add other ingredients too. You can pineapple, peaches, or nectarines, to give it even a more summery taste

               Western Salsa    (makes approximately 1 quart)

2 lbs of tomatoes, approximately about 10 to 12 of the Roma type – washed and cored.
½ medium onion sliced
2 med mild jalapeno peppers (here is where you can adjust your desired hotness and add more or add a hotter variety)
1 large glove of minced or pressed garlic
1 bunch of cilantro (1 packed cup of clipped leaves)
1 lime squeezed  ( 1 to 1 ½ Tablespoons juice)
1 table spoon of sugar

Remove outer skins from garlic. Wash, slice and remove seeds from jalapenos. (use gloves when removing seeds)  Wash and remove leaves from cilantro. I prefer to use the leaves only; Tear or cut cilantro leaves into smaller pieces off the stem. Some people chop their cilantro and use the leaves and stems. This is your choice.  Wash and remove any bad portions from tomatoes; bruised areas, stems and brown spots, core tomatoes.  Peel onion and slice into about ¼ inch wide slices. Wash and slice and quarter the lime, set aside for later use.

At this point if you are using a food processor  you will not have to cube the tomatoes, onion, garlic, or cut the cilantro.  If not using a food processor, then peel, and chop the onion into small pieces. Cut the jalapeno’s and garlic into very fine slices, and then chop into tiny bits. Chop tomatoes. Mix all fine pieces of vegetables and the tomato juices into a large to medium size mixing bowl. Use glass or stainless steel. The acid from the tomatoes and lime can give off a metal flavor when using aluminum or tin. Add about a tablespoon of squeezed fresh lime juice, the sugar and the cut up cilantro. Mix well. Let set for at least an hour for all the flavors to blend. You can adjust to your preference for sweetness or hotness.

If using a food processor, place all ingredients except for the lime and cilantro into processor. Whirl until the desired consistency of your choice. I like mine a bit chunky. Add about a table spoon of fresh lime juice and the cilantro leaves. Whirl for an instant blend to mix the leaves and juice. 
Storage -

Pour into serving bowl or canning jar and let set in refrigerator at least an hour for the flavors to blend before serving.