Monday, June 16, 2014

It Ain't Summer Yet Tomato Salsa

Sometimes I throw things together in the kitchen, thinking I won't blog about them ... and then later I decide that I'd better save the recipe.

This one came about because I'd been testing a pepper-coring gadget and I ended up with quite few jalapenos that needed a good home. If I had fresh tomatoes, I would have made a fresh salsa, but we're still a few months from having great tomatoes at reasonable prices.

So I turned to my one of my favorite canned tomato products - petite diced tomatoes. I like them better than the regular diced tomatoes, so I usually have a can or two on standby.

I did a demo a while back where I used the canned petite-diced tomatoes as-is in a "fresh" salsa and many people thought they were fresh raw tomatoes. I was pretty surprised at that, but I have to say that they're a better choice than the styrofoam-like out-of-season supermarket tomatoes, either as-is, or in a cooked application.

This salsa is fairly mild, so you can pile it onto tacos or a steak. Or into a quesadilla. I filled an avocado half with it for lunch one day. If you want it spicier, don't remove the jalapeno seeds and ribs, or use hotter peppers.

If I had any bell peppers hanging around, I would have added one or two of those, as well, but this was a clean-the-fridge salsa, rather than a planned one. Which explains the celery. When I was rooting around in the crisper looking for carrots (which I didn't have), I found the remains of a celery heart and decided to add that to the salsa.

The funny thing was that while the salsa was cooking, the celery aroma was pretty strong, but after it was cooked, the celery flavor wasn't prominent, but it did add texture.

This made a bit over a quart of salsa.

It Ain't Summer Yet Salsa

6 jalapenos, cored, seeded, diced
1 1/2 large onions, diced
2 small stalks celery, diced
1 14.5-ounce can petite diced tomatoes
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
Red wine vinegar or lime juice (optional, to taste)

You can cut the vegetables to any size you like - but remember that this is a salsa and not a stew where you'd want bite-size pieces.

Put the peppers, onion, celery, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, garlic powder, oregano, and salt into a medium saucepan. If it looks too dry and you're worried about burning things, add about 1/2 cup water. As they cook, the vegetables will release moisture, but you don't want to start off by scorching the bottom of the pot.

Cook on medium, stirring as needed, until the vegetables are thoroughly cooked and the liquid has reduced so you have a thick stew of vegetables with the sauce clinging to them.

Taste for seasoning and add more salt, if needed. If you feel that the sauce should be more tart, add a few tablespoons of red wine vinegar or lime juice and cook for a few minutes more.

Transfer the salsa to storage containers and refrigerate.