Salsa has a long standing position of love, celebration, and sharing in our family. When my daughters were growing up, I learned to make salsa at the hands of a well-seasoned master, my father-in-law, Gene Graven. He was a colorful raconteur, a bigger-than-life character who lived an Ernest Hemmingway sort of existence. He loved the women; he was an avid fisherman, he hunted, worked and traveled extensively in Latin America, and he even dabbled in Hollywood films. Most of all, he loved life and he shared it with devilish generosity.
I thought of Grandpa Graven recently as I was making salsa from the garden. Although my salsas have varied over the years, his true basics are still included: garlic, onion, peppers, and tomatoes–beyond that, the skies the limit. On this occasion, I had plum tomatoes, a delicious lemon cucumber, a Hungarian pepper, garlic, and a Walla Walla onion to add to the mix. With a handful of cilantro and a good squeeze of lime, it was spot-on!
Of course, I slathered plenty of this salsa atop an excellent Chile Verde mentioned in a recent post. Boy was it good. I imagine Grandpa Gene is grinning in approval with an ever-present stogie perched from the corner of his lips, and he’s mouthing the words, “Dos Equis.”
Mama Borah’s Salsa
Similar to Grandpa Graven’s salsa, especially handy when tomatoes are not plentiful
4 large tomatoes, seeded, cut up
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (optional)
4 jalapeno peppers, seeded, minced
1 small can Ortega chilies, chopped
1/2 large Vidalia onion, chopped
1/4 cilantro, optional
1 pound canned tomatoes, drained and seeded, chopped
1/2 lime, juice of
1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper
To prepare manually, chop or mince all items and place in a molcajete or a mortar and pestle; crush tomatoes through onions and cilantro. If unavailable, use a medium bowl and a clean small slender bottle such sauce bottle, and press down to break up fibrous pieces. Add the chopped tomatoes and grind again; season to taste with lime juice, salt and pepper.
To use a food processor, lightly pulse tomatoes through onion and cilantro. Add canned tomatoes and pulse briefly, do not over process. Add lime juice, salt and pepper, and adjust seasoning. Makes about 3 cups. ~~