29. March 2014 · Comments Off on A Tale of Hothouse Tomatoes and Hydroponic Herb · Categories: Cooking, Food · Tags: , , , ,

Salsa Fresca in Blue Glass BowlWe’re not talking that kind of herb. Sorry to disappoint anyone who arrived at this article via more interesting search terms. What we’re going to look at is a quick and easy way to liven up some of those less-than-prime wintertime ingredients. Specifically, using winter hothouse tomatoes and peppers along with hydroponically-grown green herbs to bid farewell to cold weather.

Let’s face it – non-summer tomatoes are a depressing thing. Sure, they might be the right color, but they lack the flavor development that the hot July and August sun brings. We can, however, boost their lackluster performance with some other handy ingredients. Hydroponically grown herbs and greens are pretty darned good all year round, and if you’re the kind of person who can keep an indoor potted herb garden in good shape throughout the chilly months, you’re in good stead, too. To use up our firm, reddish squash-balls some cilantro will come in very handy.

I’d been staring at this pile of hothouse Roma tomatoes for a few days. The weather’d been seesawing back and forth between spring-like days and the last vestiges of an annoyingly persistent winter. I wanted some spring/summer-ish food, and figured the best way to dispose of these fruits was to throw together some salsa fresca. This stuff is dead easy. I don’t know why you’d ever buy it in a jar.

You Need:
Roma tomatoes (about a pound)
1 large jalapeno pepper
Ground cumin
Kosher salt
1 Lime
Cilantro (fresh, about a handful of leaves)
1 Green bell pepper (small)
1/2 Red onion, peeled (large)

I removed the stem end of the tomatoes and seeded them all, then chopped to about a 1/4″ dice. I placed about 1/3 of them into a glass bowl and broke them up with a potato masher for a minute or so to make a chunky puree. The rest of the tomato pieces went in after, with a liberal sprinkling of kosher salt, then mixed to combine.

Then, I removed the top of the green pepper, seeded it, and also cut into a 1/4″ dice. Same size chop with the onion. The jalapeno, I removed the stem end, cut in half, removed the seeds and ribs, and minced finely. The cilantro just got a rough chop to break down the leaves, since I didn’t want them reduced to a mush by finely mincing them and letting them sit in the wet mixture.

All the ingredients were combined in the bowl with about 1/4 tsp. of ground cumin and the juice of one large lime. Adjust the salt to taste, and it’s done. Salsa fresca is best left to sit for a few hours or even overnight before serving to let the flavors meld. And later that night, with some home-made hummus, a cold beer, and pita chips, there was a little bit of summer.