I have been a “cook” all my life. I come from a long line of Cooks. Dad was a Cook as was his father. But, there is only one thing I make in the kitchen that turns out well: Salsa.
I won’t take any credit for some secret recipe. Fresh, home-grown ingredients make the best tasting batch. Tomatoes picked at their peak of ripeness are full of juices, acids and sugars. Onions pulled in their prime are sweet. And garlic (the easiest ingredient to grow) is pungent, full flavored and not bitter. The greatest influence on the flavor are the peppers.
Every year I grow numerous different tomatoes and peppers. I love the variety of colors, shapes, flavors, and heat. Jalapenos are good, but for fuller flavor and twice the heat I like Serranos. I pick these little bullets when they are firm and green. In that phase they add some crunch to the mix and give a slow, sneaky bite back.
Plain old bell peppers are tasty but I prefer pimientos. (Yes, that slimy red thing stuffed in an olive is a sweet pepper.) Pimiento fruits are slightly smaller than bell peppers but the walls are thicker and sweeter.
Purists suggest you dice all ingredients by hand but a quick whirl in a food processor saves time and keeps your hands from the heat. Chop the tomatoes first, then the other ingredients second. Fold them together in a mixing bowl.
- 4 medium tomatoes
- 2-3 serrano or jalapeño chiles, stems and seeds removed
- 1 large Florida Sweet onion
- 1 pimiento or bell pepper, cored, seeds removed
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
- Juice of one lime or lemon
- Salt to taste
I have fun with multicolored vegetables and make a “rainbow salsa” using yellow tomatoes as a base, red pimientos, Peruvian Purple Peppers, and red onions. It’s a thing of beauty. Then there are some not-so-beautiful tomatoes. One of the best flavored heirlooms I have ever eaten is Cherokee Purple. When sliced, the walls are deep red and the jelly is smoky green. When blended into a salsa it looks like the dog’s breakfast. Close your eyes and enjoy.
Warm regards, Bob Cook.