Summertime screams for fresh salsa. When tomatoes are in season, it makes the perfect companion to an afternoon in the sun or dinner on the deck.
The tang of lime juice and the sharpness of red onion play perfectly with sweet tomatoes and spicy jalapenos for a refreshing dip or topper that will take the edge off a steamy summer day.
I used to be a no-condiment kind of girl—except for salsa. Those sugary or goopy sauces have never been my favourite (I still don’t understand yellow mustard, sorry), and even cooked tomato sauce used to throw me off, but I’m over that one now. There’s something special about the simplicity of a fresh bowl of salsa that makes sense. No confusing ingredients. Nothing in a bottle or can. You don’t even need to use heat, which is always a welcome element when it’s just too hot to be near the stove.
Salsa is basically the best condiment. I can think of almost no situation, excluding dessert, where the addition of salsa has been a bad thing. It literally goes with every dish. Obviously, the basics include anything Mexican-inspired, like tacos, burritos, or straight-up chips and salsa, but that’s just the beginning. A few of my personal favourite pairings include:
- Any fish, especially a rich and fatty one, like my mackerel
- Sweet potato chips
- In lieu of salad dressing (think taco salads)
- Roasted veggies, like asparagus, turnips or squash
This recipe can be executed pretty fast and loose. The amounts are not always perfect and may need to be tailored based on personal tastes or just a fluke of a jalapeño pepper. I like a lot of heat and a lot of lime, so I occasionally double up on those, depending on the crowd.
A couple things to note when you’re putting this salsa together:
- Roma or beefsteak tomatoes are ideal for salsas and thick sauces because they are meatier with less juice. Even with these guys, you still get quite a lot of juice in a fresh salsa because you don’t cook it off at all. If you have something else on hand, that’s fine, but you’ll want to do a good job of seeding them to remove the extra liquid.
- It says one jalapeño, but, as I’m sure anyone who has cooked with them before is aware, the spice level can vary so much from one pepper to the next. I recommend that you taste a tiny chunk before adding the pepper, and try it from the middle, since the tip is always the mildest and won’t be a great indicator. For my most recent batch, I got a freakishly hot one and ended up only using half, even after seeding it. However, I’ve had situations where I’ve put in two or three without even seeding them and it’s been completely fine. If you like the heat and don’t want to seed them at all, the bonus is that you just cut of the top and throw it in the processor without getting jalapeño all over your hands.
- Some limes just aren’t juicy. If you get a dry one, adjust accordingly.
If you’ve never seeded a tomato before, here’s what you do:
- Cut it into quarters, lengthwise.
- Cut off the stem in the corner of each one,
- With a teaspoon or paring knife, scrape the seeds out of each quarter.
Fresh summer salsa
- 3 roma or 2 beefsteak tomatoes seeded
- 1 garlic clove
- ½ red onion
- 1 jalapeño pepper seeded
- Juice of 1 lime about 2 Tb
- ½ tsp salt
- Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender and pulse until chopped into little chunks.
- Serve with your favourite chips, alongside all the fixings for taco night, or over meat or fish.