Tonight I am going to be slinging books at our school’s Title 1 Literacy Night. Rather than leave you postless, the Hubs agreed to do a guest post. Enjoy…
- Three to Four pounds tomatoes, at least 4-5 of them being beefsteak, or on the vine variety. Super fresh or homegrown is great
- One white/yellow onion
- One bunch cilantro
- One Anaheim pepper (called a New Mexico Pepper in new mexico and parts of texas, but is a different cultivar that is a little hotter)
- Two to four Serrano peppers or jalapeño peppers (depending on your heat tolerance)
- One to three poblano peppers
- One shallot
- Three to five cloves garlic
- One TBS Olive oil
- One TBS White Vinegar
- One tsp crushed red pepper
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 14 oz can of tomato sauce (can be skipped; see below)
This is best with a food processor, but can be done by hand or with a blender.
1. Core four to five of the tomatoes (your bigger tomatoes) and place on cookie sheet
2. Broil in oven until tops are blackened and skin is falling off. Set aside and let cool
3. While the tomatoes are broiling skin and halve your onion and put in food processor.
4. Seed the peppers, but preserve the whitish flesh inside. The white flesh is the pith of the pepper, and contains the highest amount of Capsaicin, the spicy compound. The outside flesh also contains Capsaicin but not as much as the inside. The seeds themselves do not contain Capsaicin, just the flesh in which they are located.
Side note: Two of the many things that I love are spicy foods, and fresh, homegrown plants, especially tomatoes and peppers. I love to grow tomatoes and peppers, and whenever I grow a garden at home, typically tomato and pepper plants are overrepresented. Further, I love heirloom plant varieties that are usually not represented in grocery stores, “organic” food stores, or even many farmer markets.
We have a couple nice, improving farmer markets in our town, but I have been disappointed by the selection in the past. The most interesting markets I have seen, when it comes to tomatoes and peppers, was when we in Rome. I wanted to buy pounds upon pounds of produce.
With the purchase of our new house, I can finally have the garden that I want. I have been planning out construction since last fall, and boring Leila with the details. This includes reviewing the seeds available from my favorite place to buy seeds. They have a catalog that you can look through online, or sent by mail, and they have tons of interesting varieties of heirloom plants.
Chili peppers are amazing plants. They are related to tomatoes, and also, potatoes, tobacco, eggplant, and paprika, which all of the family Solanaceae, or Nightshade. It is also related to belladonna; which, while not as tasty, has its own varying uses, from medicine to poisoning political figures throughout history.
Chili peppers, and their derivatives, are used for topical analgesics, arthritis pain, diabetic neuropathy, postmastectomy pain, migraines, and other ailments. They have also been used historically as weapons, including pepper spray. They are also used to defend crops and food stores. They are also extremely high in vitamin C, B Vitamins and carotene. See, simply amazing plants!
However I like them most for the documented rush, that they provide, which includes increased heart rate, and which can provoke pleasurable and even euphoric effects. But, as you can assume, that depends on the person. To each his own, right? But back to the salsa.
5. Put chilis, onion, shallot, and garlic cloves in the food processor and pulse until to a well diced/minced consistency (see picture). Remove to a large mixing bowl or Pyrex.
6. Peel skins from the broiled tomatoes and place them in the food processor. Add all of the cilantro leaves from the bunch of cilantro. Pulse until well blended. Add to the onion/pepper mix and mix.
7. Core/trim the remaining fresh tomatoes and place in the food processor. Pulse, but not as much as the other steps so far. You need something in between a minced and diced size. However, if you would like larger chunks, or want a salsa closer to “salsa fresco” style, then dice the remaining tomatoes by hand.
8. Add the fresh tomatoes to the bowl and blend.
9. Add a teaspoon or two of kosher or sea salt (to taste) and a teaspoon of black pepper
10. Add a teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
11. Add a Tablespoon each of EVOO and White Vinegar
12. Mix all ingredients
13. Pour in the can of tomato sauce. Again if you want the Salsa Fresca style, skip this step. However, it is important for the normal recipe.
14. Taste for salt, and then place in the refrigerator to cool for a couple hours. Note that the spiciness will increase during this time, in case you believe you need more spice before you put it in the fridge.
15. After chilling stir again, and enjoy. Of course, if you’re me, you would have homemade tortilla chips to eat it with.