I think salsa has to be my favourite garnish. I put it on everything!
So when I saw these rosy red tomatoes going for $5 a flat at our school’s annual fun fair, I started to get giddy with excitement at all the salsa I could make. I’ve always wanted to make salsa from scratch but have never gotten around to it…so I knew this was my opportunity, complete with a lovely donation attached to it.
Ignoring my husband’s warning that I would never eat or use that many tomatoes ever in this lifetime, I proudly chose my flat and promised myself I’d use up every last one, even if it killed me. I would eat those tomatoes raw with my bare hands if I had to..gosh darn it!
After looking at those tomatoes for two days and feeling a canker sore formulating at the mere thought of eating them raw…I finally got cracking today and did some serious investigating for the perfect salsa recipe. After coming up empty handed on line, I turned to my own recipe stash, and narrowed my choice to three from cookbooks I had on hand. Each one was a bit different and I figured I had enough tomatoes, so I would try all three and then pick my all time favourite.
Here are my results, they are not at all scientific, but, somewhat critical..we are talking about salsa after all.
1. Martha Stewart – Great Food Fast
Martha’s salsa got high marks for presentation, it definitely was the prettiest with practical ingredients, but it wasn’t all that spectacular, a little bland and sort of boring. I didn’t follow the recipe precisely – I couldn’t be bothered to de-seed the tomatoes and I used bottled lime juice instead of from a lime. I know how Martha feels about people straying from her recipe so lets just keep it between us shall we? The verdict: I’ll eat it, but probably won’t make it again, definitely not my all time favourite.
2. Donna Hay – Modern Classics
Donna’s salsa got serious high marks for originality, and presentation. I loved it, but it’s not a great chip salsa. It would be way better with chicken, fish or eggs. I wanted to make this one so badly because it called for capers, olives and fresh basil…I thought that was such a great combination….and I will get it all to myself because I’m the only one who likes black olives! Score! The verdict: I will enjoy eating it, and will absolutely make it again, but didn’t quite make my all time favourite pick.
3. Mollie Katzen – Moosewood Cookbook
Mollie’s salsa won out on all fronts, and completely knocked my socks off! It had the best flavour with tons of cilantro, cider vinegar, and lightly roasted cumin seeds. For this recipe I didn’t complain about the extra steps of blanching the tomatoes to peel the skin and then de-seed them…I also didn’t gripe about roasting the cumin seeds. I’ve made several things from this cookbook and everything is spectacular so I knew the extra work would be worth it. The verdict: Hands down my all time favourite salsa!
Here’s the recipe for Mollie’s Salsa if you would like to give it a whirl! Enjoy!
3 med. sized ripe tomatoes (you may want to add more, my tomatoes were small and I tripled the amount)
2 scallians finely minced
2 med. garlic cloves minced
a handful of parsley, and cilantro both finely minced
1 tsp lightly toasted cumin seeds
3/4 tsp to 1 tsp of salt
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
crushed red pepper to taste
Drop the tomatoes into a potful of simmering water for 10 secs. Take them out, pull off the skins, and squeeze out the seeds. Dice the remaining pulp. Combine everything in a small bowl or container. Cover tightly and chill.
Note: To toast the cumin seeds, use a small skillet over a low flame or a toaster oven. With either method, watch them carefully so they won’t scorch.