Friday, August 18, 2006

A Succulent & Luxurious Summer Pleasure for Pennies

Lovely summer salsa

Here we are on the waning arc of August and some stray leaves are beginning to turn and flutter down into the garden. One of the greatest pleasures of summer is enjoying this harvest time, traditionally associated with county and state fairs.

Along with my perennial herbs, the mainstay green herbs like rosemary, thyme, savory and oregano, I planted several pots of basil from seed. The basil is rich and aromatic and incomparable paired with fresh tomatoes.

I don't have a full-size garden, but plant in pots and a small raised bed intensively. This year I have several tomatoes, peppers, squashes and tomatilloes. One of the most succulent and luxurious things we've been doing late this summer is making our own salsa.

Salsa that's made from fresh ingredients, with time allowed for the flavors to marry, and then consumed immediately is the taste of summer itself. We adjust the combination of fresh vegetables based on what we have picked, but all is delicious. Following below is a general recipe for fresh homemade salsa. If you don't grow your own vegetables, pick up some at the Farmer's Market. You'll still save more, and savor it infinitely more, than the expensive jarred salsa from the grocery store.

Important tip: Do not refrigerate tomatoes unless they're cut. The flavor of a tomato improves at room temperature.

Basic Salsa

2 diced fresh tomatoes (at room temperature)
2-3 scallions (green onions) cleaned and diced
1 jalapeno pepper
1/3 cup rinsed/diced cilantro leaves
1 TBL diced garlic
1 TBL cumin (or to taste)
1 TBL lemon or lime juice

Place all above ingredients in non-metallic bowl and pound, or use mortar and pestle. Let stand at room temperature for at least 40 minutes. Add I cubed avocado, if desired, and salt and pepper to taste.

Variations are endless, for example:
  • Basil, parsley or Italian parsley instead of cilantro
  • Adding diced summer squash or zucchini