Recipe Book: Summertime Salsa

Tomato season is the perfect time to try your hand at homemade salsa.

With juicy tomatoes at their peak of freshness, we are making lots of salsa for those warm, August evenings. Low in calories and bursting with flavors, it is great for impromptu gatherings, or to keep hungry adults occupied while dinner is still be assembled.

Another family favorite is my husband's homemade mango salsa, but we are having a hard time finding mangoes that are ready-ripe for slicing. That problem was solved when we discovered Trader Joe's frozen perfectly-ripe mango slices. Now we defrost what we need for recipes, and do not have to deal with slicing up a not-ripe-yet mango. It is also great for making smoothies or using in salads.

For a change, add the kernels from a just-roasted ear of corn, or a can of shredded pineapple to your favorite salsa.


Quick and Easy Salsa
4 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (tightly packed)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
Juice from one fresh lime
Zest from one fresh lime
1 whole jalapeno, seeded, chopped fine
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
Salt to taste

In a medium size mixing bowl, combine tomatoes, onion, green pepper, cilantro, garlic, lime juice and zest, pepper and salt to taste. Mix well. Add 1/2 of the jalapeno pepper, and taste. If you desire your salsa with more of a kick, add the remaining 1/2 jalapeno. Cover the salsa, and chill until ready to serve. This salsa improves if left overnight covered and chilled.


Curt's Incredible Mango-Lime Salsa
1 Tbsp. jerk-flavor marinade (any brand)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (tightly packed)
1/2 cup chopped green onions, tops and bottoms
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh mango
Fresh-squeezed juice from 1 lime
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced

Combine all ingredients and let sit covered overnight. This goes great with grilled boneless chicken breasts or thighs basted with jerk marinade. Spoon this mango topping over the hot grilled chicken pieces. 


Charred Whole Tomato Salsa
6 whole large plum tomatoes (or any firm red tomato)
4 cloves garlic, diced
7 long green onions
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (tightly packed)
1 medium green pepper, seeded and chopped
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tbsp. hot sauce

On a hot grill, char the outsides of tomatoes and green onions. Turn carefully when grilling because they tear easily when charred. Remove to a tray to cool a bit, and then load them into a food processor and blend with the cup of water. You can also "char" the tomatoes and onions using a roasting pan in a 425 degree oven, but we prefer the grilled flavor. Add the rest of the ingredients, and add more hot sauce to adjust hotness. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Serve with tortilla chips.


Easy Black Bean Salsa
5 large ripe tomatoes, diced, or 1 (14-oz.) can diced tomatoes with their juice
1 (15-oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro (tightly packed)
1 medium green bell pepper, seeds and veins removed, and minced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1 clove garlic, minced
3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. olive oil

Add all ingredients (except beans) into a food processor and pulse three times—only three so it will remain chunky. Stir in beans. Refrigerate covered overnight. Serve with tortilla chips.


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