I think it should be noted as we dive into this season of produce in the Creston Valley, I’m a big salsa guy. Some tomatoes, onions, crunchy sweet bell peppers, hot jalapenos or chiles – all fresh at the market right now. Some might call this time of year corn season, I’ve been known to call it peach season, garlic has a strong claim to declare late august as it’s season, but I really think the most beautiful marriage of all of these ingredients comes in the form of a nice pico, maybe a little verde, a spicy stewed and jarred rendition, Salsa. This is salsa season, and I am all about it.

Purple House Farms is a wonderful one stop shop for all things salsa base. A classic starting point for salsa is tomatoes, Mr. Viers at Purple House had a beautiful variety, some firmer garden tomatoes that will hold nicely in a chunkier type of pico salsa, as well as Roma tomatoes, which are smaller and hold a lot more juice, making them a great base for a salsa that you might want to cook down. Then, the crown jewel of this booth, the peppers. The Purple House Farm knows their stuff about peppers, as far as shape, colour, and flavour, their variety is insane. I was able to pick up a pint of mixed hot peppers, but also noticed some vibrant purple bell peppers among a sea of green bell peppers. Kevin informed me that the colour of sweet peppers gets darker and more vibrant the longer they ripen. A longer ripening period allows the vegetable to take on more natural sugars, as well as additional nutritious properties like Beta Carotene, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C.

FUN PEPPER FACT

  • All bell peppers are actually the same plant, they are just harvested at different levels of ripeness, so green peppers that have a more mellow flavour are actually removed from the vine before they are fully mature. Yellow or orange peppers are harvested once the plant is mature, and red peppers are left on the vine the longest making them the sweetest!

Moving the discussion into hot peppers, Kevin said that the colour can be deceiving and does not necessarily indicate the spice level of the pepper. In the variety I picked up I was able to snag some skinnier chile peppers which are really spicy, as well as some sweet and spicy banana peppers, and some classic jalapenos. In hot peppers the majority of the vegetable that makes peppers spicy is found in the “ribs”, or the white part that attaches the seed to the actual vegetable. Adjusting the amount of rib you include in your pepper dishes will allow you to control the spiciness. Cooking peppers also has an effect on the spice of the vegetable. Some varieties like chiles, release more oil when they are cooked and become spicier, allowing them to evenly heat a dish. Other peppers, like jalapenos become less spicy and take on more of a smoky flavour, but still add heat to a dish.

Now, speaking of pepper dishes, I want to talk salsa. For me salsa transcends a dip for chips, it’s a salad dressing, it’s a marinade, it’s a topper for all things breakfast (hello eggs and sausage) and dessert (peach salsa on ice cream, unreal), it’s literally the quintessential summer sauce. I am far from an expert, really I’m hardly a dabbler, into the world of canning, but I know about half a dozen people that make phenomenal jarred salsa. I won’t include a recipe for a traditional stewed salsa, because I don’t have one, but I will include the advice to ask a farmer, relative, or neighbour for their favourite jarred salsa recipe, because I’m sure someone will have one. That being said, if you have the patience and knife skills, I have ideas for you in the world of pico de gallo (or fresh salsa). AND if you’d rather not go down the pico chopping rabbit hole, I have an idea for a delicious and crazy easy restaurant style blender salsa.

Pico De Gallo

  • I barely have a recipe for this, because I really just like to use whatever I have on hand that is fresh and delicious looking, grilled corn, peaches, berries, melon, are all delicious local additions that could go into a pico with this base.

Ingredients

  • 1 onion (chopped into small even cubes)
  • 1 medium sized hot pepper (finely diced) OR more for more spice
  • 2 sweet bell peppers (chopped – cubes)
  • 4 large garden tomatoes (chopped – cubes)
  • Juice from 2 limes
  • 1 handful of fresh cilantro leaves
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • A pinch of salt

How To Make It

  • Simply combine the ingredients, if you allow the salsa to rest in the fridge, more juice will be pulled from the veg and fruit used, and the flavours will combine (also be sure to taste and adjust ingredients to your liking). You could also go ahead and eat it right away!

Fresh Blender Salsa

  • You’ll notice the ingredients are basically the same as the pico, so keep the same ideas! Adjust the spice with the type of pepper used, add in fruit or corn before serving to add more texture and flavour, the world is your salsa oyster!

Ingredients

  • 6 roma or garden tomatoes (cut into quarters)
  • 1 medium sized hot pepper (roughly chopped)
  • ½ large onion (roughly chopped)
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic (roughly chopped)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 handful of fresh cilantro leaves
  • A pinch of cumin
  • A pinch of salt

How To Make It

  • Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse until just chunky. I would let this salsa refrigerate for at least an hour before serving, so the flavours can combine.

Please, if you’ve ever followed any advice I’ve given in this blog, take these recipes, make them your own, and make yourself some salsa. Make salsa to share. You deserve it, you’ll love it, and your relatives/neighbours/farmers will love you for sharing the spicy goodness.

In Good Food,

Reede Hawton

Nutrition Rep