Putting Those Tomatoes To Use

July 26, 2011

If you stopped by yesterday, then you probably read all about the free tomatoes that I recently acquired from my friends Matthew and Maggie, who were looking to unload some of the tomatoes that were growing in their yard.

I’m happy to report that I found a great use for some of them (but not all), and that’s what today’s post is about.  What do you do with an influx of tomatoes?  My mind went straight to salsa.  I love salsa, and I haven’t made it in a long time.  What I love about making salsa is that there are tons of varieties, and it’s really hard to fuck up, so, basically, you can’t go wrong.  So I picked up a couple things at the Whole Foods in Porter Ranch, and got busy in my kitchen, making up a salsa recipe as I went along.  The salsa ended up having two new elements I’ve never used before in a salsa, so read on!

One of the things I picked up was a pepper.  I’m not a chile pepper expert, and usually I’d just grab a jalapeno or two, but I was feeling adventurous today, so I picked up a pepper I’d never bought before (my habit of purchasing unknown produce is well-documented here – you’ll have to scroll down).  I came home with these guys:

There’s called pasilla peppers… or so I thought.  I did a little research when I got home, and found this nugget on Wikipedia:

In the United States producers and grocers often incorrectly use ‘pasilla’ to describe the poblano, a different, wider variety of pepper.

So I don’t know what the hell I bought.  But I decided to give them a quick roast over an open flame, which is the first of the aforementioned new elements.  It’s something I’ve seen someone do on the Food Network years ago.  The peppers went directly onto my gas stove, which I turned to medium-low:

Within seconds I could hear them crackling, and every few minutes I turned them to a different side, and soon all sides were beautifully charred:

You take them off the heat, put them on some paper towels to cool, and after 10 minutes, you can wrap them in the paper towel and give them a vigorous rub, which removes the char and leaves behind a lovely roasted pepper:

While the peppers were cooling, but before the vigorous rub, I got the other ingredients ready to go.  First step: pulling out my Tupperware Quick Chef.

The Tupperware Quick Chef is a hand-operated chopper/food processor that I got 7 or 8 years ago when my aunt sold Tupperware, and it’s really handy for salsa making.  I don’t use it often (this marks its first appearance in this blog), and, come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve used it for anything but salsa!

Anyway.  I washed a bunch of Matthew and Maggie’s tomatoes, cut them in half, and scooped out the seeds and extra liquid (so it wouldn’t end up in the salsa), leaving the flesh:

I peeled an entire red onion and chopped it in a few big pieces, and tossed it into the Quick Chef along with some of the tomatoes:

I added a glove of garlic, which I ran through my garlic press.  It might seem silly to press the garlic before putting it into a chopping device, but I didn’t want to risk the blades missing it, and getting a bite with a big chunk of raw garlic.  I also added lime juice.

Then came the other new element that I’ve never used in a salsa before… drum roll please… PLUMS!

I’ve had peach salsa, mango salsa, and pineapple salsa – fruit in salsa is not uncommon.  And since summer is the season for stone fruits, and I had some plums lying around, I thought why not?  I used 4 red plums total.

Then came the pasilla/poblano/whatever peppers I roasted – the only thing left to do to them was remove the stem and seeds and cut them up in a few big pieces:

The top went on the Quick Chef, and I started turning the handle, and about 30 seconds later, I had some fantastic looking salsa.  The Quick Chef wasn’t big enough to handle all the ingredients at once, so I ended up doing two batches (each batch included 2-3 tomatoes, 1/2 red onion, 1 garlic clove, 2 plums, juice of 1/2 a lime, and 1 of the peppers).

Here’s the end result:

Now – what to do with it?  I’ll be honest and admit I wanted nothing more than to go get a bag of tortilla chips.  But tortilla chips are the sort thing that are hard for me to control – an open bag could very well end up being an empty bag in one sitting – so I used some of the salsa as a topping for a salmon burger, and that was my lunch:

I cooked the salmon burger (which was store-bought) in a pan on the stove, in a little Pam.  It’s exactly the sort of thing that would cook up perfectly in my RediSetGo, but I’m not loving my RediSetGo right now.

And yep, that’s celery on the side.  I ended up eating way more celery than what’s pictured – it turns out I like salsa and celery!  The celery has a nice crunch, and the shape of it is perfect for holding onto salsa.

The salsa itself was terrific.  So fresh and flavorful.  The plums made it sweet, and the pepper gave it a little heat (although not too much), and that they were roasted added a nice texture, too!

I still have some tomatoes left… and I might have another idea or two about what to do with them…

Keep it up, David!


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