With the dizzying array of jars and containers in the stores all claiming to contain salsa, I have often wondered what it has to have to make it salsa. I’ve concluded it is cilantro, lime juice and hot peppers. Personally, I like the tomato-based ones with green onions, but if there also are black beans or corn, or roasted garlic in it, I enjoy those, too. It just stretches my credulity sometimes to see salsas made with mango, melon or cranberries. Just a prejudice, mind you.
So I was happy to receive two straight-up salsa recipes from readers. Judy White in Orrington provided one that I can use in summer or winter because it calls for fresh or canned tomatoes. Pat Southard in Howland sent along a fresh tomato salsa that has garlic, green onion and green pepper in it. What they had in common besides tomatoes and onions was the apparently essential lime juice, cilantro, and jalapeno peppers.
This is the earliest we have had tomatoes maybe ever since moving to our island home 22 years ago. So it was fun to have the wherewithal for salsa before September. I used green pepper because we are growing them, but to be truthful, I am not that fond of it.
As always, be sure you suit your own taste with this stuff. More or fewer peppers. Garlic is optional. More or less cilantro. Experiment with other salsa ingredients like beans or corn.
White suggested combining ingredients and chopping them coarsely in the food processor.
This will keep nicely in the fridge for two or three days. If it lasts that long.
Your Basic Salsa
Yields about 3 cups.
2 large tomatoes, chopped or 1 can diced canned tomatoes, drained
1 medium onion, chopped or 1/2 cup sliced green onions
2 tablespoons cilantro finely chopped
2 cloves garlic finely chopped (optional)
1 tablespoon finely chopped jalapeno or more to taste
juice of one lime
salt to taste
Combine. Serve with chips or on tacos.
P.S. The Thomaston Public Library has invited me to speak at their Writers and Artists Among Us program at 7 tonight. I’ll talk a little about how a food historian does the job. There will be a small reception, and a cookbook of historic recipes that I wrote will be available for sale. If you are in the area and have the time, I would love to meet you. The next day, Thursday, Aug. 19, I’ll be cooking on the Conway House open hearth starting at 11 a.m. in Camden on Route 1. Stop by if you can.