Sunsational Summer Salsa!
Photos by Marie Pullen Photography
*Family Friendly *Pets on leashes welcome
Fresh salsa is a marvelous blend of all things Summer!
Salsa is easy to make as it’s just a matter of chopping and mixing things together. In my opinion, nothing is better than a fresh salsa made with locally grown ingredients. And of course summer is prime time when the tomatoes on the vine ripen to perfection.
In reading my blog you know I am a diehard advocate of Farmers Markets. Toiling the soil is such difficult work it must be a real labor of love. Extend the regional farmer your appreciation by attending one of the many marketplaces in Lexington and surrounding towns, virtually every day of the week. I will include a list at the end of this blog.
It occurred to me that it was mid-July, almost my birthday and I had not yet made a batch of fresh salsa for the summer! I thought it might be fun to highlight several local farmers by purchasing a single ingredient from each of them to create this delightful dish. So don your dancing shoes and come salsa with me on my tasty journey…
I like to arrive at the Farmers Market early to purchase the best of the best. However, I rarely beat the local chefs seeking natural ingredients for their restaurants. But that’s okay.
Now before you get started, the most important thing is… breakfast! Yes, you can obtain a delicious, homemade morning meal at the Farmers Market. For just a few weeks during the summer Virburnum Valley Confections bakes the best tomato pie in which you’ve ever sunk your taste buds. Marianne uses only the most ideal tomatoes of the season. If you miss this treat, she prepares a number of delectable quiches as well. Purchase by the slice to heat and eat while you browse or return home with a whole pie and be voted best mom or dad by the family!
With bellies happy, commence shopping!
The key ingredient to a super salsa is obviously vine-ripened tomatoes. I chose beautiful, heirloom orbs pictured here with Jeremy and Pam from Triple J Family Farm.
And I discovered fragrant onions with Ann and David at Elmwood Stock Farm.
I purchased a colorful variety of peppers from Mark and Velvet Henkle's Herbs and Heirlooms along with recently plucked cilantro.
Leo and Jean provide the garlic comes from Blue Moon Farm and if you haven’t tried their focaccia or sour dough breads, you must!
Charred, newly harvested corn from Bob at Barton Brothers Farms adds a wonderful flavor. To blacken, place the ears of corn directly on your gas stove top or grill.
Essentially, the only ingredient in my salsa that is not from the Farmers Market is the lime.
Have you ever considered a zesty fruit salsa? Once sampled you will be compelled to prepare time and again! Melon salsa is a juicy medley of watermelon, honeydew and cantaloupe or often I just whip up watermelon salsa. Watermelon and lime is a delicious combination. I pour the leftover juice in a glass and drink it! There’s totally tasty peach salsa, strawberry and tangy pineapple salsa and many more. For a fruity twist, substitute any of the produce mentioned for the tomatoes. The Peach Lady at the Tyler Family Farm sales sweet, succulent peaches. The peach salsa alternative has the same ingredients as the tomato except the substitution of peaches for tomatoes. I prefer the purple onions for this dish as they are not quite as sharp. I enjoy fruit salsa with chips and as a appetizing relish on chicken or fish.
Pictured here from left to right is the infamous Peach Lady herself, Mary, Wanna, Ashley, Bobby and Bradley.
Okay finally.. here’s the recipe!
Fresh Tomato Salsa
4-5 big vine-ripened tomatoes
2 large onions
3 bell peppers - your choice of colors
2 fresh limes
3-4 cloves garlic - optional
Bunch of fresh cilantro
*1/2-1 jalapeño to taste - medium to spicy
Salt to taste
Chop all the washed veggies into bite-sized, approximately 1/2 inch pieces. Mince the fresh garlic and jalapeño flesh into very small pieces. Coarsely chop the cilantro, including the stems with leaves. Throw it all in a bowl and toss. Wash, roll** and zest*** your limes. Squeeze the juice into recipe. Dice the zest and sprinkle. Zest is the bomb by the way, so don’t waste that precious peel! Salt a fair amount to taste, usually about 4-6 teaspoons.
As is typical of recipes with strong flavors such as raw onions, jalapeños and garlic, they are often better after they marinate for several hours. But dive in immediately, if you can't wait! Roasting the garlic or jalapeño will also provide a smoother, less intense flavor.
Area Schedule of Farmer's Markets: click links for more info
Sunday: 10-2PM Southland in Lexington, KY
Monday: 4-6PM Darlin' Jeans Midway, KY
Tuesday: 7-4PM Maxwell & Broadway in Lexington, KY
Tuesday: 2-6PM Hamburg Pavillon in Lexington, KY
Wednesday: 4-7PM Summit at Fritz Farm in Lexington, KY
Thursday: 7-4PM Maxwell & Broadway in Lexington, KY
Thursday: 3-6PM Azur in Lexington, KY
Saturday: 7-2PM Cheapside Pavillion in Lexington, KY
Saturday: 9-1PM N Broadway & Washington St in Georgetown, KY
Saturday: 9-2PM Azur in Lexington, KY
Saturday: 8:30-12PM Lexington Road Plaza lot in Versailles, KY
Saturday: 9-1PM Main St in Nicholasville, KY
Saturday: 9:30-1:30PM Winchester Commons in Winchester, KY
Saturday: 9-2PM Hamburg Pavillon in Lexington, KY
Also, for more information about Greater Gardenside Farmers Markets 3-7PM visit their Facebook Page.
Lexington Health Department Thursday 8AM-2PM at alternating locations.
*Fresh jalapeños have a kick greater than the jarred pepper. If you’re not sure how spicy you want it, I suggest putting in less and adding more if needed. Don’t forget that this flavor will blossom over time.
**Rolling your lime means just that. Press and roll your whole lime on a cutting board to help release the juices before slicing.
***Don’t have a zester? No problem. Use a potato peeler to remove most of the green peel only. Don’t delve too deeply into the white layer known as the pith, which isn’t yummy. Mince the peel and add to the mix!
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