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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Green Tomato Relish

easy green tomato relish

At the end of the season, there always seem to be green tomatoes left clinging to the vine. Over the weekend I went to my mom’s house on the shore to help ‘batten down the hatches’ before the hurricane. During summer, she had the most bountiful tomato plants with the sweetest tomatoes. But with a massive storm surge on the way, it was time to salvage what we could, and say goodbye to the plants.  So I came home with a pile of green tomatoes.

I spent Sunday night cooking up a storm, in preparation for the hurricane. As it turned out, we were extremely lucky and never lost power, but I had baked bread, tossed pasta salad, and made meatloaf. And I began the great  green-tomato-relish-experiment.  Not only had I never made green tomato relish, I had never even tasted green tomato relish.

It turns out that green tomato relish is really easy to make, and also really tasty.  However, after an evening of experimentation I determined that the type of vinegar is really key here.  Although many recipes call for cider vinegar, I really liked my batch with white balsamic best.  Of course, white balsamic is quite sweet, so you don’t need as much sugar as you might see in other green tomato relish recipes.

This relish is tangy and sweet and wonderful on meatloaf.  It also happens to be great on grilled cheese.  And I spooned a bit over my scrambled eggs this morning, which was lovely. Of course, it would be great on a hamburger or hot dog too!

I hope you all made it through the storm safe and sound!

Easy Green Tomato Relish

1/4 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cups chopped green tomatoes

2 cups white balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup of water

3 tablespoons sugar

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a saucepan, saute the onion, pepper and garlic in oil over medium heat until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, the vinegar, the water and the sugar. Simmer gently over medium heat until most of the liquid has evaporated – about 20 minutes (plus or minus depending on your tomatoes). Add the salt and pepper to taste.  Cool the relish and serve or store in the fridge for up to a week.

Published in: on October 30, 2012 at 6:44 pm  Comments (8)  
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Radish Green and Cashew Pesto

pesto made with radish leaves

Remember in the spring when I made this lovely radish tartine? I was thrilled at the adorable little radishes growing in my garden.   I have long dreamed of a beautiful and fruitful kitchen garden. I always believed that if I ever got to live someplace with a back yard, I would have pounds of squash and bushels of peppers.  But as it turns out, even with that lovely back yard at my disposal, gardening is not an innate talent that I possess.

I’m working on it. With advice from friends, and some trial and error, I may just get that fantasy garden someday. For now, I make do with easy to grow radishes.  Radishes do especially well in cool weather, making them a great fall pick as well as a spring treasure. And at the moment, I have more radishes than I know what to do with.  A lovely problem to have.

I also have more radish greens that I can store in my fridge.  I’m not one to waste food in general, particularly not food I’ve grown in my own garden.  So I’ve been finding all sorts of ways to enjoy these greens, which remind me a bit of watercress. Young radish greens are tender and sweet, and add a nice bite to salads.  More mature radish greens are a bit spicier and a little more woody, and are lovely sautéed with garlic in oil and tossed with pasta. If you are using radish greens from store-bought radishes, just be sure to pick bunches of radishes with the freshest, brightest-looking greens (this will ensure fresh, crisp radishes too).

For this radish green and cashew pesto you can use young greens for a milder flavor, or mature greens for greater intensity. Either way, this is a unique sauce.  Don’t expect this to have any of the subtle sweetness of a traditional basil pesto. No, this pesto is bold and radish-forward.  But it is lovely.  It is wonderful on sandwiches, delicious over grilled fish, tasty tossed with fresh pasta, and fantastic stirred into scrambled eggs.  My favorite way to eat it, though, is spread thickly on a simple piece of whole grain toast.

This pesto will keep for a few days in the fridge, but I do plan to freeze my next batch.  The flavor pop of fresh radish greens will be welcome on a cold day mid-winter, I am sure.

pesto made with garden fresh greens

Radish Green and Cashew Pesto

2 cups loosely packed fresh radish greens

1/2 cup roasted unsalted cashews

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 ounces parmesan cheese, grated

1/4 cup olive oil

Add the radish greens, cashews, salt, and cheese to the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse to finely chop the nuts and greens. Slowly, with the machine running, drizzle the oil into the bowl.  Continue to process until the mixture is well combined and no chunks remain (stop and scrape down the sides of the food processor bowl as needed). Use immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Published in: on October 14, 2012 at 2:37 pm  Comments (9)  
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