There’s something to be a said for a good recipe passed on from trusted cook to trusted cook. Finding one of these gems is truly like finding a hidden treasure – the question is whether you’ll share once you do. Given that I’m not at all proprietary, and I love the fact that these posts get you guys cooking, eating and sharing in turn, how could I not pass it on!
This one comes from my grandmother, Vo, who was given this recipe by a friend, who in turn received it from her grandmother – the same recipe that she used back in Mexico. Something as seemingly pedestrian as salsa becomes a celebration of the sweetness of ripe tomatoes and the piquant flavor of jalapeno. I was surprised to learn that there’s nary the lime or bit of oil in this one – just veggies and goodness.
This recipe makes a large amount of salsa that seems to get better and better the more time it has to sit. Make it a day ahead and get some tequila and friends for the following day, because a party will certainly ensue once you dole this one out.
I’m a spice queen, so I tend to make this one medium – however, one man’s medium is another’s incendiary, so if you don’t like it hot, leave out the jalapenos and just use the Ro-tel. This will make a salsa with a slight heat, but still pretty wimpy for most. One jalapeno gets you medium salsa and two will get you spicy. Another tip for regulating the heat of a jalapeno – if you want the flavor, but not as much spice, remove the white ribs from the inside of the pepper. The heat lies in this area, while the flavor is in the green flesh. If you like it hot, just chop the whole damn thing and plunk it in. Arriba, arriba!
Fresh Tomato Salsa
3 lbs. of tomatoes
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
25-30 sprigs of cilantro, stems removed and loosely chopped
1 small bunch of scallions, thinly sliced
1-3 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped (optional)
1 can of Ro-tel, drained of liquid
1 tsp of ground cumin
1 tsp of salt
Heat a large pot of water and bring to a boil. While the water warms, score the bottoms of each tomato with a knife, making an x. This will make the skins of the tomatoes peel off with ease. When the water is boiling, plunk a few tomatoes in the water and let boil for a minute or until the skins start to loosen. Remove the tomatoes to a colander and repeat with the remaining tomatoes. Let cool a bit.
Remove the skins from the tomatoes and slice into quarters. Remove the excess seeds and tomato goop and then chop the flesh into a rough dice. Add all diced tomatoes to a bowl and mix with the garlic, chopped cilantro, scallions, cumin and salt. Taste for seasoning and if it is too mild for you (it should be), add the can of Ro-tel (drained of juice). Taste again, and if it is still mild, add a jalapeno at a time to kick up the heat. Let rest in the fridge for at least two hours. Serve.