There’s a lot of time to think when watering an acre of organic heirloom vegetables. I took a few turns with the hose while the farmer was busy with bees and helping other green thumbs and good hearts. I tried to embrace the effects of the sunshine, forming some sort of mental reserve for the gray winter months ahead, but mostly, my mind just wandered wildly… until I reached the tomatoes. The tomatoes transfixed me.
If the color green had a smell, it would be the smell of water hitting tomatoes on the vine. As the water arched from the hose and rainbows formed in the mist, that aroma conjured a nostalgic mix of the purest, happiest moments of summers past. BLT’s eaten on the porch swing, my parents in the garden and dinners featuring simple plates of tomato slices were all alive in that scent. That moment was the tip of the tomato iceberg. They were still growing, still sweetening, still changing colors, but shortly thereafter, the tomatoes poured into our kitchen!
In the height of tomato season, I feel wrong bringing heat to a tomato (or rather, the juicy, sweet, fresh tomatoes never make it to heat, since I eat them like candy). Those reservations, however, change abruptly when staring at wooden crate after wooden crate of tomatoes- 75 lbs of tomatoes to be exact!
This salsa is a perfect marriage of raw and roasted, where nutrients and flavors mix in each symbiotic scoop of the tortilla chip. The skillet of farm-fresh vegetables intensifies in flavor after roasting, then adds thick, flavorful chunks to a raw tomato puree. If only the American political system could find the unity this salsa achieves!
Like my mind while watering, this recipe is fluid, and it’s easily changed based on the seasonal offerings. If your garden or farmer’s market is brimming with scallions and red peppers, throw those in the skillet. Peppers are the next flavorful flood, with the Urban Farmer’s rainbow growing richer by the day, so perhaps your version will feature even more chunks of blistered peppers.
Much like trying to soak up a reserve of sunshine, I thought this salsa might bring us bites of summer when the skies turn gray and cold, but both acts of preservation are proving to be impossible. The combination of corn chips and salsa creates a disappearing act like no other, but perhaps the vines will bestow enough bounty for a second batch.
Roasted & Raw Garden Fresh Summer Salsa
About this Recipe: Use the images above as a guide for quantities, but feel free to make substitutions for the roasted ingredient choices. Use whatever summer vegetables are in season and abundant. Try green onions instead of yellow, or different hot peppers instead of jalapeño.
Roasted & Raw Garden Fresh Summer Salsa
yield: 3 quarts
Avocado oil or butter for pan
2 local yellow onions, peeled and cut in halves
1 bulb of local garlic (you can leave the garlic in its sheathing during roasting)
3-4 large local tomatoes (or more if using smaller tomatoes)
2 local green bell peppers
2 local jalapeno peppers
2 local chocolate peppers (or additional green bell peppers)
2 organic limes, cut in halves
1 organic lime for juice
smoked sea salt
7 medium, local tomatoes, cut into chunks
1 large, local heirloom tomato, cut into chunks
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
smoked sea salt & black pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Grease the bottom and sides of a cast-iron skillet with avocado oil. Arrange the vegetables in the skillet. Brush with avocado oil, and sprinkle on salt and pepper. Squeeze the lime juice over the vegetables, and then transfer to oven.
Roast for 25-30 minutes, until the onions have browned slightly and everything is juicy. Remove from the oven to cool.
Meanwhile, combine the raw tomatoes, olive oil and apple cider vinegar in the food processor until only some chunks remain (it should be pretty liquidy). Transfer to a large mixing bowl, and set aside.
Once the roasted vegetables have cooled, transfer to a cutting board and chop into chunks. Save any reserve juices from the roasting, and add them to the final mixture.
Note: For the peppers, you can either keep or discard the seeds. Keeping the seeds will yield a spicier blend. For the limes, you can chop them into chunks with the peel intact, or add them to the food processor with the raw tomatoes. If the peel is too tough after roasting, squeeze the juice into the mix, and discard the peels.
Add the roasted vegetable chunks to the tomato puree, as well as any reserve juices from the skillet. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to jars, and store in the refrigerator. The salsa can be frozen as well.