Everyday Food Blog

cooking from the csa: my favorite salsa

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Heirloom tomatoes are in front; regular to the rear. they were hard to tell apart this week.

Hurrah! Tomato season is here! I worked my one very minimal shift at the csa last week. It's a small part of the "Community" portion of "Community Supported Agriculture"; I helped unload crates of beautiful veg, fruit, eggs and flowers off the farmer's truck. Together I and the other csa volunteers set up the pickup site (in our case, in our local community garden); labeled what things were and how much or how many we each were allotted; stacked crates to the side as they were emptied by members picking up their share; and helped break the site down when the pickup time was over.

Last week's share: Regular, heirloom, and cherry gold tomatoes; corn; cucumbers, yellow squash and/or zucchini; basil; pale green peppers; savoy cabbage; cantaloupe; a peach; and new: apricots!

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I've never seen such rosy apricots. They look surreal.

1 I've never seen such rosy apricots. They look surreal.

bunches of basil

2 bunches of basil

Crates of apricots and peppers. I got one of the peppers that was almost white.

3 Crates of apricots and peppers. I got one of the peppers that was almost white.

Cabbages, helpfully labeled. These were savoy.

4 Cabbages, helpfully labeled. These were savoy.

Some of the cantaloupes were smooth, like the one in the front left corner of this crate; we guessed they would be the same inside.

5 Some of the cantaloupes were smooth, like the one in the front left corner of this crate; we guessed they would be the same inside.

Crates of corn—we still got lots this week, though some of the ears were smaller.

6 Crates of corn—we still got lots this week, though some of the ears were smaller.

These tiny cherry gold tomatoes are sweet like candy.

7 These tiny cherry gold tomatoes are sweet like candy.

Cucumbers and zucchini have been plentiful all summer. Good thing we love them!

8 Cucumbers and zucchini have been plentiful all summer. Good thing we love them!

Our CSA offers eggs; we didn't buy a share, but the eggs are popular. Here they are about to be put in a cooler to protect them from the sun.

9 Our CSA offers eggs; we didn't buy a share, but the eggs are popular. Here they are about to be put in a cooler to protect them from the sun.

We also didn't buy a flower share—maybe next year!

10 We also didn't buy a flower share—maybe next year!

I've been waiting impatiently for tomato season, because that's the time to make my favorite salsa. A friend taught me the technique; I just ran with it!

Beth's favorite salsa
2-4 very ripe tomatoes (enough to pack a 9" cast-iron skillet), cored and bad spots trimmed (if any)
2-4 whole green serrano peppers (adjust to desired heat level)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons chopped cilantro
juice of 1 lime
salt to taste

1 Pack tomatoes in skillet and place serranos between them. (Packing the skillet will make it easier to stand the tomatoes on their sides, to sear them all over.) Cook over medium heat, rolling tomatoes and peppers over periodically, until serranos are well seared all over; remove peppers. Set peppers aside.

2 Continue cooking tomatoes on all sides until skin loosens. Using a fork, lift skins off and discard. Continue peeling in this way as you continue to turn and cook the tomatoes until all the peels are removed. Let tomatoes continue cooking while you prepare the serrano peppers.

3 Using a fork in one hand and a sharp knife in the other (never touch hot peppers with your bare hands!), trim the ends off the serrano peppers. Slit lengthwise and remove seeds for less heat, then roughly chop and return to skillet.

4 Mash the tomatoes as they cook until they have fully disintegrated. Cook sauce until beginning to thicken; add in garlic, cilantro and salt. If the sauce thickens too quickly, it's ok to add a little water. Cook to desired thickness (again, adjust with water as needed) and remove from heat, 2 to 3 minutes. Add lime juice to taste. Serve warm or cold on tacos or any other Mexican-style dish, or just eat it with chips.

The quality of your tomatoes makes all the difference to this salsa; get the freshest, ripest ones you can. I made this batch with heirloom tomatoes—a first for me. The heirlooms were so ripe and sweet, it almost tasted like barbecue sauce. I always prefer serrano peppers for their heat and flavor, but if they're not available, jalapenõs work fine. The salsa will keep several days in the fridge—if it lasts that long!

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Get the ripest tomatoes you can. These heirlooms were super ripe, almost overripe as you can see by the patch of wrinkly skin. They were delicious.

1 Get the ripest tomatoes you can. These heirlooms were super ripe, almost overripe as you can see by the patch of wrinkly skin. They were delicious.

I cored the tomatoes before cooking.

2 I cored the tomatoes before cooking.

Usually I like to pack the skillet tightly, but these tomatoes were too big for my smaller skillet.

3 Usually I like to pack the skillet tightly, but these tomatoes were too big for my smaller skillet.

Cook over medium.

4 Cook over medium.

Time to remove the serranos and start peeling the tomatoes.

5 Time to remove the serranos and start peeling the tomatoes.

Searing the peppers gives a nice roasted flavor.

6 Searing the peppers gives a nice roasted flavor.

When the skin starts to come loose, you can start lifting it off with a fork. Keep cooking and turning the tomatoes as you go.

7 When the skin starts to come loose, you can start lifting it off with a fork. Keep cooking and turning the tomatoes as you go.

I was able to get all the peel off the tomatoes.

8 I was able to get all the peel off the tomatoes.

The tomatoes were starting to break down quickly as I finished peeling.

9 The tomatoes were starting to break down quickly as I finished peeling.

I use a fork and sharp knife to trim and scrape out the seeds for less heat. Never touch the peppers with your bare hands!

10 I use a fork and sharp knife to trim and scrape out the seeds for less heat. Never touch the peppers with your bare hands!

These tomatoes were very juicy, so the salsa went through a very liquid stage. Keep mashing the pulp to break up the tomatoes.

11 These tomatoes were very juicy, so the salsa went through a very liquid stage. Keep mashing the pulp to break up the tomatoes.

Stir often as the sauce starts to thicken.

12 Stir often as the sauce starts to thicken.

The finished salsa.

13 The finished salsa.

Comments (1)

  • avatar

    I am definitely suffering from tomato envy! They look gorgeous.

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