Here’s a little Friday freebie. Not one of our traditional recipes, really, but a suggestion to help you get through a busy weekend. Make a pot of chili — our favorite traditional chili is the All American Chili from Cooking Light, but we also love our Beef, Bacon and Chocolate Chili for a complex, not-so-spicy-but-very-tasty version. After you’ve enjoyed several bowls, buy a big bag of tortilla chips (Xochil is still our go-to brand) and some grated Monterey Jack/cheddar cheese. Open up that jar of pickled jalapeños sitting in the back of your pantry. (We were lucky — our panty is hiding several jars of pickled jalapeños and Serranos that I canned last fall, fresh from the Cherry Grove Organic Farm outside of Princeton, NJ.) And make a BIG plate of nachos. I’d bet many of you have made nachos before so this is just a reminder about how easy they are to make and how much everyone loves them. Especially during the weekend. For lunch. For dinner. Or, if you’re adventurous, for breakfast with a fried egg, sunny side up. Yum.
Until this past week the tomato plants in my garden were still churning out tomatoes. Granted, we were getting handfuls as opposed to pints but the unusually warm weather in the Northeast United States has spoiled us. We just had our first hard frost and the tomato vines are, sadly, now withering back, but there are still some great tomatoes at the farmer’s markets if you get there soon.
Here’s a simple recipe to help you use up the last of this season’s crop. This salsa is best with those remaining vine-ripened specimens but if all you can get are hothouse tomatoes you can use those as well. We’ve also got fresh cilantro and a ton of chili peppers just harvested from our CSA — jalapeños and Serranos and Habaneros — which, depending on your tolerance for heat, are excellent in this recipe.
We made up a batch on a recent Sunday and had it with quesadillas and sour cream as an easy supper. Or, whip up a double or triple batch and serve it with chips and guacamole at your next tailgate party.
This particular recipe is fresh and bright and beats the store-bought variety hands down. It took me less than 10 minutes to make and gets complements every time we serve it…mostly from adults, mind you, but the spice-loving kid would dig in as well. Our girls, unfortunately, prefer the guacamole over salsa. We’re working on that! Maybe by the time next season’s tomato plants really start producing we’ll have some converts in the house. We’ll see….
Fresh Tomato Salsa with Lime and Cilantro
Three large tomatoes, finely diced (I suggest you leave the skin and seeds intact unless they really bug you)
One scallion sliced into thin rings
Juice from 1/2 lime
2 tablespoons finely minced fresh cilantro
1/2 red or green jalapeño, finely diced (wear gloves while dicing). You can increase the amount of chili to 1 whole chili if you want a fiery salsa, or substitute a Habanero for the jalapeño.
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
In a medium bowl mix together the diced tomatoes, scallion rings, lime juice, cilantro, and jalapeño with a generous pinch of salt and grind of black pepper. Taste and correct for flavor — you may want more salt, pepper, lime, cilantro, or chili.
Allow flavors to meld for 15 or 20 minutes before serving, keeping salsa chilled (but don’t refrigerate for too long…the tomatoes turn mushy if left in the refrigerator for any length of time).
Serve with chips and sour cream, or beside a big stack of cheese (or even chicken or shrimp) quesadillas. Excellent as part of an appetizer tray. And I’ll have to post our recipe for guacamole sometime soon as well!
Serves: 4 – 6.
Parent rating: five stars. The lime and cilantro really brighten up this salsa and it has a fresh zing that you won’t get from any store-bought variety…even the fresh-made ones. We love it. Great treat in the fall, or really any time of year. Best with fresh tomatoes but I’ll probably make a big batch in January for the Super Bowl with whatever hothouse tomatoes I can find at the time. Nice that this is vegetarian and vegan as well.
Kid rating: I’m going to punt here – our kids won’t try this version because of the chilis and the cilantro. But I bet that if I were to trick Daughter 2 into taking a bite she’d actually like it. And Daughter 1 actually likes helping me make this, which is sort-of like a short-lived victory. Many kids would give this four or five stars. Our girls aren’t awarding stars, unfortunately. Won’t stop me from serving it though!