Each year, right around mid-July, I experience an interesting shift in perception. Fresh, local tomatoes go from being a precious commodity, good for little more than slicing, salting and eating, to something just a bit more mundane. I don’t feel the same pressure to focus on every tomato-y bite. I am suddenly free to transform them, to stuff them with spicy couscous concoctions or roast them for soup. I do so adore being rich in tomatoes.
Friday night, I returned home around 7:30 p.m., after two deliciously strong drinks with the Philly-based half of Doris and Jilly Cook. Hungry, but not inclined towards an organized meal (and with no one else to feed), I decided to turn the three remaining tomatoes I had from the previous week’s farmers’ market excursion into a quick batch of salsa.
I’ve taken to building quickly chopped half-salads like this straight into jars (saves on washing a bowl). I top a quart jar with a wide mouth funnel and drop the ingredients in as I chop. This jar received layers of cubed tomatoes, half a finely minced onion, 2 cloves of quickly crushed garlic, a roughly chopped handful of wispy cilantro (I got a huge bundle in my CSA share this week, I’m planning to make this soup with the rest), a minced pickled jalapeno (if you pickle them, then you always have them around for salsa emergencies), salt, pepper and the juice of one lime.
Once all the ingredients are in the jar, I cap it (tightly) and give a good shake. If the contents resist incorporation, just let it sit for five minutes and try again. You do need to leave the top third of the jar empty for the shaking to work. If you’ve filled it to a brim, you’ll need to enlist the aid of a wooden spoon. It’s good to eat after fifteen minutes of mellowing (although it gets even better overnight).
I like to eat it with crisp tortilla chips (who wouldn’t!) or just with a soup spoon, like a spicy, Mexican-inspired gazpacho. It’s good heaped on scrambled eggs and has the power to lift spirits and brighten days. Just make sure to store any leftovers in the fridge.
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Just a note about salsas like this. They are not cannable. Sadly, it’s impossible to capture the flavors of fresh salsas with our existing preservation techniques. However, there are a number of cooked salsa recipes out there that are appropriate for canning. Do a little searching and make sure to find a tested recipe that’s safe for processing and storage. You’ll find that many of them are quite delicious!