Monday, August 9, 2010

The story & recipe of Sassy Salsa

Each year my husband & I plant a modest garden in our back yard, and we love to cook with the fresh veggies that are produced. There is always a fantasy I have that the tomatoes and hot peppers will be so abundant, I will be able to make a ton of fresh salsa and enough tomato sauce to get us through the winter. Well, this year my fantasy is coming true!! Our tomatoes are ripening by bushel, and the hot peppers are poppin’ by the pound. First comes the salsa…Bliss!!

An old friend of mine would make salsa on the stove top, which was something I had never seen before and was very curious about. He would puree the ingredients together and let it simmer on the stovetop until they reduced a bit and the flavors intensified. As he was stirring it, my curiosity grew and I had to go check this out. I took a whiff of this delicious concoction and the fumes from the hot peppers went through my nose and came out my eyes…Wow! Intense!! Must have!!! The flavor of this salsa was like no other I had tasted since visiting New Mexico 15 years ago. My mission to find a similar recipe began…

Thankfully, it didn’t take too long to find a recipe that reminded me of my friend’s salsa. It is a little different, but has that same intense, fresh, spicy flavor. I named my version Sassy Salsa…Why Sassy Salsa?’ll see when you taste it for yourself!

When I first looked at the recipe, I was nervous that the roasting process wouldn’t create the same flavor as my friends but I had to give it a whirl anyway… you never know ‘til you try. Thank goodness I did try it because this is the best salsa ever and is exactly what I was looking for. The roasting of the ingredients intensifies the flavors perfectly; it’s like having a party on my tongue!!! Ole!! 

Sassy Salsa

15 plum tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, unpeeled
½ small onion, quartered
2 chili peppers (just 1 for a mild spice, or none for spice-free salsa)
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin (this adds a nice smoky flavor)
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (just have a lemon? use 2 Tbsp instead)
1/4 cup fresh parsley

1. Preheat the broiler. (Want an even more intense flavor? Roast them on the grill!)
2. Place the tomatoes, garlic, onion and chili peppers in a medium baking dish and drizzle with olive oil.
3. Broil 10-20 minutes stirring occasionally until outsides of vegetables are just charred.
4. Remove vegetables from the broiler and let cool until warm to the touch. Peel the tomato skins off (they come off very easily!), cut the tomato in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Remove the stem from the chili pepper and the skins from the garlic and onion.
5. Place the roasted vegetables and remaining ingredients in the food processor and coarsely chop.
6. Enjoy!!!

One fun thing about cooking is that no recipe is set in stone. Originally this salsa recipe called for cilantro, but I had parsley in the garden so I used that instead. I actually prefer the parsley because it has the same fresh taste as cilantro but is a bit milder. The first time I made this, I didn’t have an onion so I didn’t use an onion; it was still fabulous. If there is an ingredient that you don’t have or don’t like, you may be able to eliminate it or substitute it. If you aren’t sure, just let me know and I’ll help you out!! Also, feel free to add things to the recipe such as fresh mango, pineapple or peach chunks!! YUMMM!!! Those will jazz up any salsa! (Stir them in after the chopping process.)

Now, don’t feel limited to pairing only tortilla chips with this salsa. Oh no my friend, the possibilities are endless! Sassy Salsa is awesome in an omelet, on a burger (or in a burger!!), stirred into some whipped cream cheese, on fish, on a hot dog, as a sandwich spread, over roasted chicken, mixed in with roasted potatoes…etc.

Explore and be free with your food!

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