I don’t know about you, but I get a little manic this time of year. It’s tomato season here in Michigan, that all-too-fleeting two or three-week period where we can actually get gorgeous, red-ripe tomatoes, the kind that actually taste like tomatoes should. When the season rolls around, I feel a bit frantic- I want to put it in a chokehold so it can’t slip away, or beg it like a forlorn lover never to leave me…
If you couldn’t tell from the impassioned words above, tomatoes are my absolute favorite fruit and/or vegetable, and I get so frustrated reading recipes that have the caveat “Don’t bother making this unless you have really great tomatoes”, since 90% of the year I don’t. Hence the mania- when I can actually make those dishes, I rush like crazy to make as many as possible before they elude me once more.
Last Sunday at Eastern Market, we picked up half a bushel each of Romas and regular slicing tomatoes (not sure the exact variety), as well as a couple pounds of heirloom tomatoes (all for the paltry sum of $10!). The heirlooms, of course, were simply sliced and eaten with a tiny pinch of salt and olive oil. The Romas are destined to be slow-roasted with olive oil and herbs, and the regular tomatoes have (so far) been used to make a gargantuan batch of gazpacho and a small batch of salsa. (Unoriginal, I know, but hey, it’s only once a year that I can make those things with excellent tomatoes.) I still have a bunch left that I need to use- perhaps a panzanella, or a tomato panade or summer pudding? Or stuffed tomatoes? What’s your favorite way to showcase fabulous tomatoes? I’m dizzy with the possibilities…
I’ll be posting more tomato recipes (hopefully) very soon; meanwhile, here’s a recipe for the easiest salsa you’ll ever make (and it’s pretty damn good, at that). It’s very similar in style to the salsas served at Mexican restaurants- somewhat thinner than jarred salsa, but with an amazing fresh flavor and a little kick. And outside of tomato season, if you substitute a couple cans of tomatoes, I won’t tell anyone.
Noelle’s Kick@$$ Blender Salsa printer-friendly version
4-5 cups ripe tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped
1 small yellow onion or 1/2 a large white onion, quartered
1 small jalapeño, halved and top removed (remove seeds and pith for a medium salsa; leave in for a hotter salsa)
1 tsp sea salt (or to taste)
1 clove garlic
a handful of cilantro leaves
Notes: The garlic and cilantro are marked “optional” for the simple reason that if you don’t have them, you can still make a great-tasting salsa with the first four ingredients. I love cilantro, but I know it’s not for everyone. For the jalapeño, if you want it really spicy, don’t bother taking out the seeds or pith (if it ends up too spicy for your liking, you can always add more tomatoes). In regards to equipment, I prefer the blender because it does a better job of not leaving any large chunks, but use the processor if that suits your fancy.
Directions: Place 3 cups tomatoes and all other ingredients in a blender or food processor, onions & jalapenos at the bottom. Pulse gently until no large pieces remain, and the salsa has a nice even consistency. Add the remaining tomatoes and pulse just a couple times- this will give the salsa a little more texture. Taste for salt and adjust as needed. The salsa will appear light in color at first from the air that gets mixed in during the puréeing, but after it sits it will settle and look normal. Makes about 1 quart.