Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Salsa La Bamba!

I really don’t know what to name this recipe. However, the word, "La Bamba", sounded appropriate, so SALSA LA BAMBA, it is! Don't laugh! Well, by the way it turned out, it rang well to my ears!

I made this two months ago when I had my share of voluptuous tomatoes freshly harvested, among others, from church friends at their place in Camp Prayer Mountain.

Canning was out of the question. So I made some Salsa and homemade spaghetti sauce for the kids.

To make homemade Salsa, firstly, a big basketful (about 8 kilos) of carefully selected ripe tomatoes, is very important. The fresher, the better. The tomatoes above are the best variety of tomato to use: Roma; also called paste tomatoes. They have fewer sides, thicker, meatier walls, and less water.

Next, remove the tomato skins. Here's the trick: put the tomatoes, a few at a time in a large pot of boiling water for no more than 1 minute (30 - 45 seconds is usually enough). Then, plunge them into a waiting bowl of ice water. This makes the skins slide right off of the tomatoes! If you leave the skins in, they become tough and chewy in the sauce and not very pleasant.

After you have peeled the skins off the tomatoes, cut them in half and squeeze of the seeds and water. Yes! Just like it sounds: wash your hands then squeeze each tomato and use your finger or a spoon to scoop and shake out most of the seeds. You don't need to get fanatical about it. Removing most will do.

Toss the squeezed tomatoes into a colander or drainer, while you work on others. This helps more of the water to drain off. You may want to save the liquid: if you then pass it through a sieve, screen or cheesecloth, you have fresh tomato juice; great to drink cold or use in cooking!

3 cups chopped onions
1 Tablespoons of oregano
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup diced, fresh cilantro
1/4 cup diced celery
1 tablespoon salt
2 cups of lemon juice
1 cup diced green and red bell peppers
freshly ground pepper
1 to 4 diced jalapeño peppers or use according to how hot or mild you want it
3 (6 oz) cans of tomato paste - if you like a richer thicker flavor and texture
Optional: 1 Tablespoon ground cumin
Optional: Add pine nuts or sunflower seeds.

Start with the chopped tomatoes in the pot. Add the seasonings and bring to a gentle simmer. Taste it as it cooks. If you like the sauce hotter, add 1 Teaspoon of chili powder. And if you like your salsa thick, add 4 Tablespoons corn starch, dissolved in the vinegar before adding to the mix.

For an afternoon snack, place a spoonful of salsa on crackers and add a dash of parmesan cheese! Or mix this with some al dente spaghetti noodles or fetuccini!


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