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We all have our favorite cookbooks. One of my favorites is the Joy of Cooking. This was a college graduation gift, and it’s the first place I turn to when I have no clue what an ingredient is, let alone how to cook with it… like the daikon radishes that came in our CSA box last week.
My second favorite is Family Meals. This was also a gift, and I love how it’s filled with FAMILY recipes – classic recipes you’d typically find at holiday tables or those that are often included in family traditions.
When it comes to traditional food though, Nourishing Traditions is my cookbook of choice. Containing so much more than recipes, it’s really a handbook that explains why certain aspects of food behave the way they do and teaches you how to get the most nutrients out of the food you eat.
This is where I turned to a few weeks ago, when I was tapped out of creativity for ideas (being at the tail end of our no-spending challenge and all) and wanted to make something new and different. After flipping through a few pages, I landed on page 103 and quickly made the recipe what what we had on hand.
We gave it a try later that week, and it was unanimous. The recipe was downright AWFUL! For the first time, Nourishing Traditions had failed me.
I followed the recipe. I made the necessary adjustments per the recipe and based on the ingredients we had. So then why in the world did this recipe taste so gosh darn salty?!
And then a few minutes later (ok fine – hours), I realized where it all went wrong. This salsa recipe was a fermentation recipe, and designed so that the salt would naturally preserve the food over time… It wasn’t meant to be eaten right away!
As written, the salsa recipe makes about one quart and calls for 1 tablespoon of sea salt (for the recipe), plus an additional 1 tablespoon of sea salt if you don’t have whey (for preservation). Well, we didn’t have whey (and I didn’t think of the whole preservation aspect) so I added the second tablespoon of kosher salt and called it done. We let it sit for two days at room temperature and then transferred it to the fridge – a.k.a. “cold storage.”
Ha! I have a feeling Ms. Fallon didn’t mean a refrigerator when she wrote that last little tid bit!
After a few taste tests, we were able to separate the fact that it was way, way, WAY too salty from the fact that the salt itself was pretty darn tasty! This says a lot, coming from two people who could easily survive on chips and salsa alone.
In an effort not to waste perfectly good (although salty) food, I took the salsa and used in a chicken enchilada sauce – making absolute sure not to add any more salt to the dish. Then, we re-recreated the now infamous “salsa recipe on page 103” with a few, very minor modifications.
- First, all the vegetables were roasted to impart a deep, smoky and complex flavor. The roasting also brings out the natural sweetness in vegetables.
- Only add 1 teaspoon of salt.
- Don’t wait three days or even three hours to test – try it immediately!
- Add more salt if needed, but just 1/4 tsp at a time!
This recipe is absolutely perfect while tomato plants are producing their final batches of fruit. Be sure to make this sooner, rather than later, and savor these last few weeks of warm weather.
Or you can add another tablespoon of salt and set the jar aside for next fall. But don’t say I didn’t warn you about the salt!
Fresh Roasted Salsa (better than Nourishing Traditions page 103)
The salsa recipe in Nourishing Traditions is good but way too salty if you want to eat it now. Get an adapted version, with less salt and tons of flavor!
- Prep Time: 15 min
- Cook Time: 45 min
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: 1 quart 1x
- Category: Sauces & Condiments
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: Mexican
- 4 medium tomatoes, quartered
- 2 small onions, halved
- 2 jalepeno peppers
- 6 garlic cloves, halves
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp lime or lemon juice
- 1–3 tsp kosher salt
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
- Halve peppers lengthwise, and remove the seeds for a mild salsa. Leave the seeds for a hotter salsa.
- Place tomatoes, onions, peppers and garlic in a shallow baking dish and toss with olive oil.
- Roast in the oven until the vegetables are aromatic and begin to char, approximately 45 minutes.
- Remove vegetables from the oven an allow them to cool enough to handle.
- For a blended salsa, remove vegetables from the oven and place them, their juices and the remaining ingredients in a blender and process.
- For a thick and chunky salsa, roughly chop the vegetables and place in a medium bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine well.
- Taste and add more salt if desired.
- Store in the refrigerator if you don’t eat the whole jar during the taste test.
Additional Recipe Tips
- You don’t HAVE to roast the vegetables if you don’t want to. This recipe – with less salt – is really quite good as it is and is perfect when you’re short on time.
- Feel free to omit the garlic if you don’t like it in your salsa.
- Another variation would be to try different tomatoes, different types of onions and different types of peppers!
- If you don’t have fresh tomatoes, you can try using canned. Start with one 15oz can and taste from there, or try using this recipe instead.
The most frugal version of this recipe would be to use ingredients grown in your own garden. However, here’s what the non-gardener would pay if everything was purchased at the store:
- Tomatoes: $1/lb
- Cilantro: 50¢
- Peppers: 32¢
- Onions: 25¢
- Garlic: 5¢
- Lime juice: 17¢
- Salt: 1¢
- Olive Oil: 10¢
Total Cost for Fresh Roasted Salsa: $2.40 for 32 ounces
If I recall correctly (it’s been awhile since we bought salsa), the average cost of a 16oz jar of store-bought salsa was around $2. Making it yourself saves you 80¢. If your family goes through as much salsa as we do, that savings will definitely add up over time!
Have you ever come across a recipe that was a complete fail? What did you end up doing with it? Were you able to salvage it?
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