SALSA! Just saying the word evokes in most of us a spicy condiment or a dance step.
I have taken it upon myself to research as many recipes as possible and have found there to be almost a hundred in the cookbooks I have enjoyed recently.
“Coyote Café,” by Mark Miller is still available and has some of the best recipes and methodology I have seen in any Mexican cookbook.
Being a Midwesterner, I did not encounter much Latino food, and Miller’s tips are simple but precise.
In his recipe for Roasted Tomato Salsa, some of the vegetables and herbs are roasted in a hot, almost dry cast-iron pan, so that the herbs impart their flavor more fully.
Many cooks simply throw spices in at the end of a recipe, which does not allow the herbs to cook throughout the dish.
I have used his “mise en place” method of roasting vegetables and spices together in numerous dishes.
ROASTED TOMATO SALSA
Adapted from “Coyote Café”
(Recipe yields about 4 cups, and prep time is 15 minutes)
• One onion, chopped
• ¼ cup olive oil
• 2 lbs Roma tomatoes, sliced in half
• 4 tb chopped garlic
• Dried spices: 1 tsp. each cumin, cayenne pepper, oregano and paprika
• 1 dried pasilla ancho pepper (re-hydrated, cleaned and chopped)
• 2 fresh jalapeno (chopped and seeded)
• ½ cup fresh cilantro (minced fresh leaves)
• ¼ cup red wine vinegar
• 1 tsp. salt and sugar
1. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a saute pan over medium heat until lightly smoking, add the onion and all dried spices to coat onions. Saute until carmelized, about 10 minutes. Add garlic in final minutes so as not to burn.
2. Transfer the onion mixture and half the tomatoes to a food processor and pulse until finely chopped but not pureed. Add the cilantro and re-hydrated pasilla chiles and pulse again to mix.
3. Add remaining chopped tomatoes and fold in along with the remaining oil, vinegar, salt and sugar.
4. Serve chilled or at room temp with chips, red meat or chicken.
THROW A SALSA PARTY
I enjoy pairing the Roasted Tomato Salsa with black beans for an outdoor party meal.
The Roasted Tomato Salsa can be added to the beans for extra flavor.
Simply purchase some local fresh tacos and add shredded cheese, chopped peppers, sour cream and a few more store-bought salsas and you have an instant party spread.
Place each ingredient in separate fancy bowls, and let your guests create their own tacos.
If you are feeling extremely creative and adventurous, there are a multitude of salsas to try to make on your own.
Much of Mark Miller’s original recipes are available online at www.Eilee.net and include Mango Salsa, Tomatillo Salsa and more!
HOW DID SALSA ORIGINATE?
Much of the research I did for my article has been from cookbooks, some old and some new.
Because I am a collector of cookbooks, I unearthed a gem by Josefina Howard. Her 1998 book, “Rosa Mexicano,” traces her many travels in rural Mexico.
According to her observation, “In rural Mexico the staple for many residents is a taco with beans; this might seem a bland diet, but with the addition of salsas made with a variety of chiles, the taco can acquire new dimensions of flavor.”
SEND US YOUR PARTY RECIPES
We hope you enjoy your summer cookouts, and send us your recipes from your best picnic fare. Contact us at [email protected] and we just might publish your recipe!
Jano Nightingale is a Master Gardener and horticulturist and teaches vegetable gardening at the Carlsbad Senior Center. Contact the Senior Center at (442) 339-2650 for the class. Contact Jano at [email protected] for garden questions.