Tag Archive for seasonal produce

“Kitchen Sink” Salsa

Summer is ending. The kids are back in school, and we are on the cusp of fall. I’ve even seen a few leaves…

While I’m not overjoyed at losing my freedom and bike rides to the beach, I’m really excited that classes are starting up again. I’m looking forward to getting back into the classroom, and to having a more dependable schedule. This time of the year also means harvest, and I’m taking full advantage.

kitchen sink salsa

There’s something about canning and preserving that makes me feel really smug. A recent trip to Richmond Country Market cost me $20, and out of that produce, I made three large jars of salsa, three 250-ml jars of chutney, and about the same of peach-apricot jam. A friend had previously brought me plums, blackberries and blueberries, and those went into various chutneys and jams, as well. These things will not only get me through the next year or so without having to buy jam, chutney or salsa, but I’ve saved a lot of money by buying and preserving at the height of the season when the produce is freshest and cheapest.

See? Smug.

I’m also really loving my new Bernardin Home Canning Kit, so this week’s posts will be all about canning and preserving.

First up: my famous “Kitchen Sink” Salsa. I call it “Kitchen Sink” salsa, because basically everything but the kitchen sink goes in it. If you don’t like something, don’t put it in. If you like something, put in more! One thing I love in salsa is a little fruit. It adds to the sweetness. I’ve often used mangos, but this time around, I just happened to have peaches, so one of those babies was what made it into the 2013 vintage.

One last thing: I am lazy. I don’t peel my tomatoes. I don’t chop them by hand. Life’s too short, and so is summer, my friends…  Ain’t nobody got time for that.

kitchen sink salsa

“Kitchen Sink” Salsa

Ingredients: 

  • 5 lbs beefsteak tomatoes (or whatever you can get that’s local and ripe)
  • 2 peppers (of any variety–use banana or jalapeño if you need a kick)
  • 1 small onion
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, or one head of garlic, roasted
  • 6 green onions
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 bunch cilantro (chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon each of chili and cumin
  • Chipotle pepper to taste (or 2 chopped chipotles from the can)
  • 1/4 cup lime juice

Kitchen-sink add-ons:

  • Corn (roast on the BBQ on the cob, and then slice off the kernels with a knife)
  • a can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 mango or peach, skinned and chopped fine
  • 1 can of tomato paste

Method: 

  • In a food processor, place the garlic and the onion, and process until finely chopped. Remove and put aside.
  • Cut each of the tomatoes in halves, and then remove the cores with your knife. Quarter each tomato, and then add it to the food processor. Process on low, or pulse, until the tomatoes are your desired chunkiness. You’ll have to do this in batches.
  • In a large pot (like a dutch oven or stock pot), heat a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil, and add the onion/garlic mixture to it. Saute for 5-10 minutes, until they are fragrant, then add the tomatoes. Stir well, and every 5 minutes or so once they are simmering.
  • Seed and hand-chop the peppers, and then chop them fine in the food processor. Add to the tomatoes. Season with s/p, lime, cumin, chili and chipotle. Add in your add-ons as well.
  • Prep the green onions and cilantro by roughly chopping with a knife, and finely chopping in the food processor.
  • Your salsa should take about a half and hour to cook down to the desired consistency. If you feel like it’s too watery, add a can of tomato paste, or remove a cup or so and blend it, then put it back into the pot. Keep tasting it and adding spices until you get it to how you like it.
  • Finally, add in the green onions and cilantro. Cook for an additional 5-10 minutes.
  • Either allow to cool and store in the fridge for immediate use, or preserve in jars (using the instructions here) for use later. Makes approximately 1.5 litres.

Sweet Zucchini-Pepper Relish

A couple of years ago, while having a girlfriends night, my friend Erin showed up with this Sweet Zucchini-Pepper Relish. She served it on slices of baguette with cream cheese or goat cheese, and a dollop of the relish on top. It was a big hit. That stuff was goood. This is also tasty in less-fancy applications: dressing up hamburgers and hot dogs, for example.

On top of a baugette slice with chevre.

I love this time of the year: the abundance of fresh, in-season produce makes me very happy. I want to take advantage of it. The other day, Michael and I drove out to Richmond Country Farms. I love this place: in October, we go there to get our Hallowe’en pumpkins, but this time of year, the place is overflowing with fresh produce that they grow right there on the farm: notably corn, but there is tons of other great stuff, as well. Like zucchini. Cheap and plentiful, there is so much you can do with this lowly vegetable. One of my fave recipes is a chocolate zucchini bread, but that’s a future blog post.

Today’s is a sweet relish that I then canned, and, if it makes it to Christmas, will no doubt end up as gifts. The ingredients for this cost me less than $10, and it made 7-250 ml jars.

This recipe is a bit loose. Take the basic part of it, and then add seasonings to your taste.

Ingredients:

  • 8 small-medium zucchini (I used four green and four yellow)
  • 3 regular onions
  • 2 sweet red bell peppers
  • 1/4 cup pickling salt (I just used coarse salt, which I have around anyway)
  • 2 1/2 cups of sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups of vinegar (I just used plain white vinegar, but I’ve seen some recipes call for apple cider vinegar, and I think that could make for an interesting extra layer of flavor)
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 2 tsps of cornstarch

Method:

1. Wash everything, top and tail the zucchini, and slice them in half length-wise, peel the onions and quarter them, and clean the seeds out of the peppers and cut them in quarters.

2. Chop, chop, chop: Some recipes call for shredding the vegetables, or putting them through the food processor, but I like a chunkier relish, so I put mine through the food processor using the thin slicing attachment. You could also use a mandolin for this, I was just too lazy to do it by hand.


3. Throw all the vegetables into a large bowl and toss to mix. Sprinkle them with the salt, and toss them again. Let them sit for an hour. This helps to drain all the excess water out of the vegetables.


4. After the hour, put all of the vegetables in a colander and rinse them under running water, and then press out the excess liquid.

5. In a very large pot, add the sugar and vinegar. This is also the time to add anything you want to flavor your relish: some ideas include:

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • Hot pepper flakes to taste
  • a scoop or two of plum jam
  • Bay leaves (remove after cooking and before canning)
6. The mustard and turmeric will make the relish quite yellow, similar to the hot dog relish you can buy in the store. Add if if that kind of thing turns you on. Heat the vinegar, sugar and spices together until the sugar dissolves entirely.
7. Now add the vegetables, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. You want the vegetables to be soft, but not mush.
8. Mix the cornstarch and water together until they are smooth, and add to the pickles to thicken the broth. Taste and adjust seasonings.
9. You could store your relish in plastic containers and use them up fairly quickly, or you can preserve them by canning them. Click here to learn the canning process.
What next??? I’m thinking tomatoes…