Roasted Tomato Jalapeno Salsa

roasted tomato salsa
I’m sorry for my infrequent posts these past few months – but I have a good excuse.

Our family is growing! And while I have been feeling pretty good, all things considered, blogging has taken a back seat lately. In the past few months, I haven’t felt much like experimenting in the kitchen. Slightly nauseated and continually tired, my cooking pursuits have been limited to grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches, whole wheat blueberry muffins, and mushroom cheddar omelets.

But all of that has suddenly changed. You see, I think I’ve reached that nesting phase. For most women, I guess nesting means washing baby clothes and hanging mobiles. But not for me. No, in our house Jeff is in charge of decorating the nursery while I obsessively stock our freezer with meals and ingredients to enjoy when we’re too bleary eyed and exhausted to even beat eggs.

Thankfully, our farm share’s bounty is well timed. The tomatoes have started to pour in, along with piles of fresh herbs and loads of garlic. This week, I threw it all in the oven, along with some green jalapeno peppers, and made a big batch of this spicy, smokey salsa. After I was done eating my fill of chips and salsa, I froze the rest. As it happens, cooked salsas actually freeze pretty well and retain their flavor for a few months in the freezer. The texture of the salsa might change when defrosted, but if you stir it well and heat it up again, it is just fine.

This salsa is really easy to make, and works well in all kinds of recipes. I froze most of my batch, and when I defrost it, I’ll probably use it to marinate steak for grilled steak fajitas. Or possibly I’ll toss it with some black beans, whole wheat pasta, and cheddar for a southwest pasta bake. I might even just spoon it into a tortilla with some scrambled eggs for a quick breakfast burrito.

Roasted Tomato Jalapeno Salsa
Makes about 4 cups

2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
4 medium tomatoes, halved
3 fresh jalapeno peppers, halved and seeded
1/2 small onion, thickly sliced
4 peeled garlic cloves
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons minced scallion
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
salt, to taste

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Grease a baking sheet with half of the oil. Arrange the tomato halves, jalapeno halves, onion, and garlic cloves on the baking sheet and brush with the remaining oil. Roast the vegetables until the onion begin to brown and the peppers are blistered. Cool slightly. Working in batches, pulse the vegetables in a food processor and transfer to a large bowl. Stir in the cilantro, scallions and vinegar. Add salt to taste. Serve right away, refrigerate for a few days, or freeze to use within a few months.

Published in: on July 28, 2013 at 6:32 pm  Comments (2)  
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Salsa, Salsa, Salsa

Mexican steak

I’ve never really understood celebrity crushes.  Sure, I had a poster of Chris O’Donnell tacked to my wall when I was thirteen, but I just really liked Batman.  In any case, it never made much sense to me to get all mushy about a made-up character.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done my share of unrequited pining.  Perhaps most memorable was my highschool philosophy teacher, who had a sort of Hugh Grant-meets-Dartmouth thing going. I’m a sucker for fleece. And brooding.  With all of that Descartes and Sartre and Camus, it certainly wasn’t little old Madame Sbarge who inspired me to major in French in college. And years later there was the do-gooding surfer.  I had clearly moved on from fleece to flowing locks and from existentialism to fighting malaria.

rick bayless salsaBut lately, my crushes have moved in a culinary direction.  Technically, I suppose that Rick Bayless is a celebrity, and that I have a celebrity crush.  But when I flip open one of his books (two of which my wonderful husband gave me for my birthday) and make salsa, I actually feel a bit like he’s in my kitchen.  OK, not really, but that doesn’t stop me from talking to him.  “Rick, is this enough cilantro?” “Are these cascabels toasted enough?” I’m not sure that he would totally approve of my results but he certainly could not fault my efforts.  Salsa-making has become my new obsession.  Poor Jeff has endured everything from an overly smoky chipotle version to a too-salty tomatillo salsa. But I’ve finally got the hang of it. I’m loving roasted tomato salsa and chipotle-roasted tomatillo salsa.  You can find a few great recipes here on Rick Bayless’ website.  And with so much salsa hanging around the house, I’ve discovered that it’s awesome as a marinade, great on roasts, tasty in corn chowder, terrific in mac and cheese, and it even makes a spectacular salad dressing.

But most often I’ve actually just been making these quick, easy, and healthy tostadas. With the weather finally warmer (please don’t let this be a tease) I love grilling the steak here, although you can just as easily use a grill pan on the stove top.  These are a little messy, but that is part of the fun. 

Mexican steak tostada

Steak Tostadas

Serves 4

1 lb flank steak

1 cup roasted tomato salsa (if you choose store-bought salsa, Fronterra brand is my favorite!)

3 tbsp cider vinegar

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 poblano pepper, chopped

1/4 cup chopped red onion

salt and pepper

8 corn tortillas

6 oz cheddar cheese, shredded

1/4 cup thinly sliced cabbage

1/4 cup sour cream

Marinate the steak in a mixture of 1/2 cup salsa and the cider vinegar for 30 minutes.  Season the steak with salt and pepper.  Preheat the grill or a grill-pan.  Grill the steak until desired doneness.  Allow to rest for a minute or two and then slice thinly.  Meanwhile, heat the oil in a nonstick pan over medium heat and saute the poblano and onion until soft, about 5 minutes, season to taste with salt and pepper.  Toast corn tortillas until crisp.  Arrange two tortillas on each of four plates.  Top with cheese, steak, pepper mixture, and finally cabbage.  Serve with remaining salsa and sour cream.  And lots of napkins!