today’s discovery: midwinter fresh salsa, sort of

January 23, 2010 § Leave a comment

Have you ever pined for fresh salsa in the middle of the winter? I know, I know – we are supposed to be all about eating seasonally as well as locally. But there are some pleasures for the sake of which I’m willing to forsake my principles.   And – really – everything that goes into this salsa is – or potentially could be – something you preserved from the summer garden. So: nothing’s being carted thousands of miles by environmentally hazardous big trucks, from vast impersonal farms reeking of pesticides, where the sweat and tears of unfairly paid migrant workers watered the sad, tasteless piece of produce you now hold in your guilty hands…OK, enough with the manipulation. I’m being facetious, a bit.

Canned salsa is not the same as fresh. Brendan and Dominic are great lovers of fresh vegetables, particularly tomatoes and corn.  No troubles getting the fellows to eat their vegetables, during the summer! We like all our vegetables straight from the plant, so to speak – sweet corn, by the way, is so good raw, you can just stand out in the garden and eat it and before you know it, you’ll have eaten your whole harvest. But you won’t regret it, really.

Great. Now I am craving fresh sweet corn. Something to look forward to.

Anyway, Brendan seems to be in denial about the fact that the canning process is not a mode of magically preserving the food as it was the day we picked it, fresh from the good earth. He invariably expresses disappointment when I open a pint of salsa canned from last year, I guess because he’s thinking, since it’s made from our garden produce, it ought to taste the way our produce tasted last year? No such luck.

But today, when he came back from working on his truck, I had waiting for him a big bowl of salsa, which he couldn’t believe wasn’t fresh. I guess I ought to have gotten a picture of him tasting it, with a blurb coming out of his mouth, saying “I can’t believe its not fresh!” in the manner of those iconic ads for margarine or something nasty like that.  Oh well. I wouldn’t have known how to photoshop that, anyway.

I hope you are now pining for fresh vegetables too. I like to share my pain. But here, I will also share my remedy!

Sort of Fresh Salsa for Winter


1 pint canned tomato sauce – REAL tomato sauce, not sugary gunky stuff from a tin can. I can not reiterate often enough: not all tomatoes were created equal!

Preferably, this is sauce you canned back in September. But if you do not have your own home-canned sauce, Muir Glen does some pretty tasty organic tomato sauce, and even though its pricy you’ll pay less for it and the other ingredients than you’d pay for a pint of storebought gourmet organic canned salsa. You can use stewed tomatoes, too (Muir Glen fire-roasted: yummy!).

1 medium yellow or white onion…(or red. Whatever. Color is good). You grew this onion last year and have been storing it in your root cellar just for this moment…right? Of course right. Hey, we can all dream.

1 handful of frozen chopped peppers (which you harvested from your garden or bought from a friendly farmer at the market, last year, and froze). If you are a glutton for self-torture via insanely hot peppers, as I am, use frozen jalapenos and throw in a dried habanero for good measure. Or you an use a mixture of frozen bell and frozen hot. Or just bell. Suit yourself!  The cool thing – one of many cool things – about peppers; you don’t have to blanch them to freeze them safely. Just cut them into strips or chunks, throw them in a freezer bag, and forget about them until you need them next.

1 handful frozen cilantro (ditto as for peppers)…unless you are one of those weird cilantro-hating people, in which case I can’t help you, I can only pity you (sorry, mum, if you’re reading this). Cilantro, like peppers, freezes well. I know of no other herb that does so well in the freezer.

1 tsp lime juice (optional)

1 pinch of salt

Throw it all in your blender or food processor and blend –

– until it’s mealy and thick with a few onion and pepper chunks floating around. The biggest difference you’ll notice between this and summertime salsa is the lack of fresh tomato chunks. You COULD buy fresh tomatoes from the grocery store to make up for this lack, but they won’t make you happy, so don’t do it.


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