Salsa! Or, Alternatively: Abundance Demands Action


Here’s a potluck item or a nice little crafty gift for people you meet. At the end, I’ll get to what I was doing there with the packaging.

There’s a great farm stand in Oriental, NC that’s a good bike ride away, a 5 minute drive, or a very long walk. We had the luck of meeting someone at this cafe who offered us a ride to Paul’s Produce stand, and when we got there, we picked out a bunch of stuff and all of it was very fairly priced.

“See that box over there?” said, I presume, Paul himself when we brought our things to the counter to pay. “You can take the whole thing off my hands for a dollar.”

So we did, and when he tallied our bill up it came to $7.50. Whoa. We walked out of there with two huge bags of produce and this box, that was mostly made up of long-in-the-tooth tomatoes.

“Does that sound fair to ya?” Yeah Paul, TOTALLY.

Paul's Produce

SALSA. That’ll use these up. We wouldn’t eat them all in time if it was just the two of us cooking with them. We were in Oriental, where every day you meet new people, other boaters, cruisers who are now living on land… I had salsa ready for every social occasion, including a great time aboard s/v C:\[esc]. This recipe goes out to Ellen!

Now, just like all the other recipes on this blog, I’m laying this out like a roadmap, not a set of directions. You can double this or back off on some of the flavors. However, to get this to taste like what we shared in Oriental or what you’ve had at one of my Dia de los Muertos parties, then you need the first 5 ingredients on this list. The rest is variation and you don’t necessarily need it.

2 tomatoes, chopped (about 2 cups, yeah I know, tomatoes are all different sizes)

2 scallions, in nice small slices showing off their little ring shapes. Don’t just use the greens, cut right down into the whites where the flavor is. (Only have onions? COOL. Do a nice dice to 2-3 tbsp of them)

juice of 1 lime (No limes? Put a few dashes of apple cider vinegar or wine vinegar in there. about a tablespoon or so. Lime is key. If you think this should be more zesty, throw in more juice or vinegar. Too much? Balance it with the oil.)

salt to taste, start with a teaspoon

2-3 tablespoons of olive oil (count that? we’re to 5 ingredients. BAM, simple salsa.)

about 2 tbsp cilantro (more if you love it!)

1 finely diced jalapeƱo, or a few tablespoons of diced poblano or anaheim peppers, or a chipotle pepper from one of those little cans of chipotle

a clove of fresh garlic (If you do this, have it pickle with everything overnight so the garlic isn’t so pungent. Garlic powder is also pretty good if you’re in more of a rush. More garlic tips below.)

mango, pineapple, black beans, corn, or somesuch fancy thing chopped and added. Adjust your dressing (you know, your citrus and oil and salt) to cover this extra stuff. But yes, this is is one way you could make any salsa you’d like, really.

I don’t think I need to write directions here, because you just mix these things and put them in a bowl so you can proceed to delight your guests. Having it chill or pickle in its juices for a little while is nice but not necessary.

When I made this in Oriental, I made a batch with cilantro, then ran out of cilantro, so to get a nice distinctive flavor I took the couple tablespoons of oil that I’d be using and put it in a pan first. On a low and slow temperature, I added a couple of cloves of minced garlic to sweat into the oil, then when I went to dress the salsa with it, I poured the garlicky oil in there. Boom. Garlic salsa.

Jars to Leave as Gifts

Above in the picture you can see that I made some labels for jars of the stuff.

I collect a couple of things that makes this easy. I always have magazines on hand that have colorful photos in them so I can make tags or wrap small gifts (these came from a diving magazine) and I always have glass jars saved for all kinds of uses around the boat. I pick a page that I think will work, with some space in the photo that gives an opportunity to put words in, and I fold the paper and bend it around the jar to approximate the lines where I’ll have to cut so it fits around the jar. A bit of tape at one end, pull the strip of paper around and neatly tape the other end, then write on it. Write on it ahead of time and you might trim some of the lettering off.

If you don’t process the cans give your gift receivers a heads up that it’s fresh salsa and not for the cupboard. It should be eaten within a week.

Also, don’t process salsa that’s made from tomatoes like the discount ones we got. Canning and preserving should be done, always, with the freshest ingredients for the best results and for your health.

Salsa is easy, do play with the flavors. It’s just enough work and it’s so nice and fresh that it’s always received with a lot of joy. Mix and taste, add dashes of what you think might be missing, and make it your own.

Tell me where you take it, I’d love to hear your salsa tips!



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