a recipe for delicious living
Fresh Tomato Salsa
(September 13, 2007)
...submit your question to Lauren!
Richard asked Lauren:
I do the gardening in the family and my tomato crop is overflowing with
ripe specimens (all at the same time!). I made a great tomato sauce and
I still have so many tomatoes left that I was wondering if you had some
ideas for using the rest. I don't "can" foods (Yes, I know I could, but
I also know I won't, ha!). So, if you have a recipe to share for using
ripe tomatoes, I would greatly appreciate it. Also, I grow different types
so having a recipe that utilizes a mixed variety would be extra helpful.
As I was reading your note, I immediately thought of "salsa," which is
a great way to use some (albeit not all) of those gorgeous ripe, end-of-season,
tomatoes. Salsas, although usually served with corn tortilla chips, can
be altered to become more of an "Italian" topping for hot slices of garlic
toast (called crostini). All you'd do is make the mixture a bit more textural
(slightly chunkier) and you'd also change some of the more ethnic ingredients
used to embellish the tomatoes. And, to take things one step further,
by tossing the "crostini topping" over some cooked pasta, you can create
a wonderful room temperature sauce or serve it over a crisp breaded and
pan-fried cutlet (chicken or veal) or grilled sword fish steaks. As far
as the type of tomatoes, as long as their vine-ripened and sweet, any
one will do (or any mixture). The only difference is in the water content
of the fruit (plum tomatoes have the thickest cell-walls, thus have more
meat and less liquid.) Strain the more watery types a bit more thoroughly
before mixing with the other ingredients (but don't throw away the tomato
liquid--use it to simmer rice, to dress hot pasta or just drink it straight!).
So, here's a simple recipe for a delicious Fresh Tomato Salsa
to use, as is, or to alter as your mood and "on-hand" ingredients dictate.
Fresh Tomamto Salsa
Yield: about 4 cups (more if including the optional avocados)
This salsa is just perfect; vibrant in taste, color and texture. To alter
this recipe to make it less "Mexican" in feeling and more appropriate
to sit on top of hot garlic toast slices (for a savory crostini); substitute
a chiffonade of fresh basil for the cilantro (or use fresh chives and/or
Italian parsley). You could also use chopped fresh cherry peppers (or
the jarred ones) instead of the jalapenos and some chopped pitted Kalamata
olives and/or marinated artichoke hearts. Adding some chopped cheese (whether
feta, fresh mozzarella or crumbled goat cheese) would also be wonderful.
You can also use this (or any variation) of this concoction as a room
temperature pasta sauce or as a topping for crisp breaded and pan-fried
cutlets or grilled sword fish steaks.
- Medium-mesh wire sieve
- Sharp serrated knife
- Sharp chef's knife
- 6 large, very ripe tomatoes (use all red or mix red with green Heirloom tomatoes)
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup minced sweet yellow onion (make sure it's sweet!)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 to 3 jalapeno peppers, stemmed, seeded and minced, or more to taste
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Good squeeze of fresh lime juice (squeeze 1/2 lime), or more to taste
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, or more to taste
- Nice pinch of Kosher or sea salt
- Optional additions: 2 ripe Hass avocados, peeled, pitted and diced
- Accompaniments: Warmed corn tortilla chips (mix blue, white and or yellow)
1) To prepare the tomatoes: Place a sieve
into a mixing bowl next to your work surface. Core each tomato, and then
halve them through the center (not through the stem-end). One by one,
core a tomato and then cut it into smallish chunks. Run the blade of a
sharp chef's knife over them to make the pieces small but still textural.
Use a pastry scraper to pick up the tomatoes and transfer them (juice
and all) to the sieve, allowing the juices to fall to the bowl beneath.
Continue until you've chopped all of the tomatoes and they're all in the
sieve. Lift the handle of the sieve and use your hands to toss them around
(without pushing on them) to help most of the excess juices run into the
bowl. Put the drained tomatoes into another, nonreactive bowl.
2) To assemble the salsa: Add to the tomatoes, all the
remaining ingredients and fold together to combine. Taste for seasoning,
adjusting with lime, olive oil and salt, to taste. Let the flavors meld
for 1 hour and up to 8 hours (if more than two hours, refrigerate, but
bring close to room temperature before serving).
3) To serve: Place corn tortilla chips on a shallow baking
sheet and into a preheated 375°F oven for 5 to 10 minutes, or until hot
but not overly dark. Pile the chips into a linen-lined basket and serve
with the salsa
Timing is Everything:
- The salsa can be prepared 1
and up to 8 hours ahead. If assembling less than 2 hours ahead of serving,
keep at a comfortable room temperature, covered. Longer time requires
refrigeration, but let sit at room temperature for an hour or so, to
take the chill off.
Questions for Lauren Groveman's Kitchen:
Lauren Groveman recipes have been featured
in many national magazines and local newspapers. Her books "The
I love to Cook Book: Rediscovering the Joy of Cooking for Family and Friends"
and "Lauren Groveman's Kitchen, Nurturing Food
for Family and Friends" are available through
For in depth information on Lauren Groveman as a writer, teacher, TV &
radio host, as well as her recipes and cooking tips visit her website at
Lauren is a Larchmont resident. She is happily married and
blessed with three wonderful children.