I think my favorite snack is salsa. Best of all is a chunky chip dipped into restaurant style salsa, spicy and smoky. I feel a little guilty pleasure in this indulgence since Joe doesn’t really care for salsa; so when I choose a jar at the grocery store, I go for cheap since it’s only for me. Finally, it occurred to me that I should just make my own salsa. I still have a lot of tomatoes and even a few peppers, though tiny. I could augment with peppers at the market, which are on sale this week, and onions are also a good bargain right now.
And since I need at least three quarts of tomatoes for the amount of salsa I want to make, I’ll augment the tomatoes from the garden with diced organic tomatoes from Costco (also on sale this week).
I sorted all the tomatoes, keeping the best to enjoy in salads and keeping some in the process of ripening to enjoy later. It looks as if we might actually have a few tomatoes left by Thanksgiving. A really late start to the season, but those wonderful tomatoes just keep on coming. The main plants are done but the volunteer cherry tomatoes are still happening as well as the two little patio plants by the door. For all my early grousing and worry about this season, I am astonished. It’s almost as if these plucky tomatoes were determined to prove me wrong. They would produce, despite my belief they might not!
I like the taste of roasted peppers and onions and garlic, so I started with that.
I didn’t bother peeling the tomatoes, just cut them into chunks. I also found a few tomatillos from the volunteer plant that came out of the garden earlier this season. I could add them as well.
After the peppers were roasted to my liking, I dumped them in the stock pot along with all the tomatoes.
I added a little vinegar and a little sugar and some pickling salt and set the whole business to simmer for about a half hour.
The messy part was when I put batches in the processor to mash up. I put everything back in the stock pot and set it to simmer while I prepared the jars in a boiling water bath to sterilize. When I tasted the salsa it was good but didn’t have much oomph. It needed a little more spicy heat. I shook in a bunch of powdered chipotle pepper—and a bunch more when it was still a little too bland.
Finally, I was done. I scooped the salsa out of the pot with a measuring cup so that I could pour it into the jars without making too much of a mess. Wow! Thirteen 12 oz. jars in all! That should last a little while at least.
But the sale at Costco is still going on for the diced tomatoes, and I still have a large supply of homegrown, and still some peppers and onions. And maybe this time I’ll cook the tomatoes with some dried chipotle peppers. Make this a fiery batch. I just need more jars…
Restaurant Style Salsa in Jars
3 quarts tomatoes
1 red onion to roast
1 large sweet pepper (I used 1/3 each of red, yellow, orange and green bell peppers)
3 fresh jalepenos (I only had 2, but I had about 4 little ones from the garden
2 Anaheim peppers
4-6 cloves of garlic
1 white onion, chopped and cooked with the tomatoes rather than roasted
3 tablespoons pickling salt or sea salt
1/3 cup vinegar
¼ cup sugar
1 tablespoon ground chipotle pepper
Roast pepper slices, red onion in chunks, and garlic about ½ hour in hot oven until slightly charred.
Meantime, cut up tomatoes and add diced tomatoes to make three quarts. Add chopped white onion and roasted vegetables and cook in large stock pot over medium heat for about ½ hour. Process in food processor in batches and put back in stock pot and simmer while the jars are boiling to sterilize. Adjust seasonings to taste, adding more chipotle pepper for more heat. Makes thirteen 12 oz. jars.
I was eager to try some of this salsa out and wondered if Joe might like it in a meal. How about a sort of fajita/jambalaya kind of thing with leftover chicken? The salsa might dress up the humble dish. So I sautéed a bit of onion, garlic, celery, a carrot, a couple of small tomatoes and peppers in a little olive oil; I cooked a little white rice. In the last five minutes, I added the chopped chicken to the vegetables and stirred it all together. Served with the rice and garnished with a little cheese and a generous dollop of the salsa, it was pretty good, especially with a little sour cream on the side to soften the flavors (since I had spiced up the vegetables quite a bit).
Joe liked it. But then, he seems to like everything I cook, sweet man…