Smoky tomato salsa

Another recipe for a tomato glut. Foolishly, I planted out five Tumbler tomato plants earlier in the year, a little worried that five would be insufficient for the family’s tomato needs. It appears, however, that Tumbler is a prolific plant – kilos and kilos of tomatoes are coming ripe all at once.

The sweet and flavourful little tomatoes are excellent in this cooked salsa, a version of a salsa served at the Border Grill in Las Vegas and Santa Monica. The Border Grill (and its sister restaurant, Ciudad, also in LA) is owned and run by Mary-Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, who have a TV show in America called Too Hot Tamales. I’ve never seen it, but whenever we’re in Vegas or LA, Dr Weasel and I make a point of stuffing ourselves silly at one of their restaurants, where the Mexican food is about as good as it gets.

The Border Grill serves three salsas with chips before the meal – something like this one, a zingy green tomatillo salsa (anybody know where I can get young tomatillo plants in the UK next year?) and a raw pico de gallo. It’s hard not to say ‘Yes please!’ to the nice server when he offers to get you more salsa and another bowl of chips. Don’t. You won’t have any room left for the rest of the meal.

This salsa keeps for five days in the fridge, so if you have a lot of tomatoes make plenty. Don’t worry about the large amount of garlic; cooking it like this makes it very mellow and removes any harshness. You’ll find yourself eating this salsa on baked potatoes, with tortilla chips, with crudites…I defy you to make it last five days. You’ll need:

2 lb raw tomatoes, freshly picked if possible
1 large onion, sliced roughly
1 bulb of garlic, peeled
3 tablespoons chipotles in adobo (you can buy these chillis in Sainsbury’s in the UK – use less for a less fierce salsa)
1 small handful fresh oregano (or a teaspoon dried)
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt and pepper

If your tomatoes, like mine, are cherry-sized, you don’t need to chop them. If you have large ones, quarter them and remove the pithy cores.

Place all the ingredients in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring slowly to a simmer with the lid off, and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Set aside to cool. Add the oregano and blitz in a food processor or liquidiser, taste for seasoning and add more salt if necessary.

10 Replies to “Smoky tomato salsa”

  1. If you’re looking for tomato recipes, there’s an absolutely fabulous hot, spicy, garlicky chutney recipe in Madhur Jaffrey’s Eastern Vegetarian Cooking. Mmm.

  2. I had no idea you could buy chipotles from Sainsbury’s! I’m always bringing a few tins of them back from the States with me; keeps me going for a good year or so. 🙂 The Cool Chile Co does a wonderful chipotle ketchup and if you mix it with a bit of mayo it’s fab on chips or mix it w/a bit of sour cream for dipping nachos. As far as getting tomatillos over here (I so miss salsa verde!) I think you might be able to buy the plants from chili pepper pete or the cool chile company. If I only had a garden but such is the consequence of living in the centre of Brighton. 🙂

  3. Hi Kalyn! I don’t think cilantro would work here; the salsa is very rounded, and while the oregano is pitched about right for it, cilantro (coriander in the UK) wouldn’t quite work, I suspect. Having said that, the pico de gallo which is served in the Border Grill alongside their smoky salsa is spiked with lots of cilantro, so if you prepare two salsas you’ll get the rounded softness of the cooked one and the spicing of the raw one.

  4. Amanda – that ketchup is just fantastic. There’s a bottle in the fridge at the moment; we tend to get through it very quickly!

    Thanks for the seeds pointer. A friend in California said that if we can grow tomatoes here, we can certainly grow tomatillos – I hope I’ll be able to manage a pot of them next year.

  5. The tomatillos sound very interesting… On the subject of more uses for your tomato crop, may I also suggest green tomato chutney? I’ve never made it myself (no tomatoes in my windowbow) but I can vouch for its deliciousness. Harry’s sugestion sounds yummy too – mmm, garlic…

  6. This company also sell Tomatillos, Chipotles and Masa Harina. They don’t open
    until 1st October 2006 but when they open get in quick I am sure they will sell
    out REALLY fast, you can pre-order an invite to their sneak peak event. They
    were at the Mexican embassy independence party in London.. Such a lovely couple!

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