Tomato Jalapeño Salsa

I usually make this salsa only during the height of tomato season, because it is best when it is made with the ripest, freshest tomatoes you can find. But when I recently checked my chest freezer to see what of last summer’s bounty remained, I discovered a definite theme. I found bell peppers, chiles, tomatillos, and a poblano sauce, all waiting for their day in the kitchen. Clearly it’s time for some Tex-Mex. Instead of buying a jar of salsa at the grocery store, I decided to make some, using some of the frozen chiles, and tomatoes from the produce section, to see how different it tastes, and see if adjustments are necessary.

As it turns out, the unseasonal salsa is not bad. I bumped up the salt just a pinch, and I used red pepper hot sauce to boost the heat and acidity just a bit. Although it does not taste like summer sunshine and spicy rainbows, it is definitely better than any salsa from a jar. This makes me very happy. Time for some tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and nachos.

TIP: Don’t be tempted to try to save time by using a food processor to chop the ingredients. You will not get the right texture. Use a knife. It’s good practice. Make sure it’s sharp. Dull knives are dangerous knives.

Makes about 1 quart, plus enough for sampling

  • 4-5 medium jalapeño peppers
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions
  • 4-5 ripe medium tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  1. Cut the stem ends off 4 of the jalapeños. Scrape out the ribs and seeds with a spoon, and discard. Finely chop the jalapeños and transfer to a large bowl.
  2. Add the cilantro and scallions to the bowl. Stir to combine.
  3. Core 4 of the tomatoes, and chop into 1/4-inch pieces, one tomato at a time. Transfer each tomato to the bowl, leaving behind any juice on the board and wiping the cutting board between tomatoes.
  4. Stir all the chopped tomatoes into the green mixture, until well combined. Add the salt, granulated garlic, black pepper and oregano, and stir well again to thoroughly mix.
  5. Allow salsa to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, to give the salt time to pull juice from the tomatoes.
  6. Stir the salsa well, and sample with a tortilla chip or piece of flour tortilla. If the salsa is too hot or too salty, add the fifth tomato and repeat steps 5 and 6.
  7. If the salsa needs more salt, carefully add salt, stirring and tasting as you go. If it needs more heat, chop and add the fifth jalapeño, or simply add some of your favorite hot sauce, tasting as you go.
  8. Refrigerate until serving time. It’s fine cold, but the flavor develops as it warms up. Store in refrigerator in a glass jar for up to one week.

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