My favorite way to enjoy tomatoes as a kid was simple. Sliced, on bread with mayonnaise. I still enjoy the taste of sliced, fresh tomatoes, but tend to dress them up a bit more. Tomato-cucumber salad, or insalata caprese are two of my favorite summer tomato dishes.
When the tomatoes start coming on in full force, as they are now, I start figuring ways to preserve them for the months ahead. The instinct to store food for the long, bleak winter appears to be engrained in my DNA. As I rummage around in the tomato bed grabbing whatever is ripe or near ripe, I find myself wondering how closely related to those nut-grabbing squirrels we are, or rather “I am.”
Not only are tomatoes in full force in my garden, but I also noticed that the leaves are dying on the plants. Blight, or possibly end-of-summer decay, has left me wondering how many more of the tomatoes will ripen before the frost hits.
In my state of morose expectation, I had to do something radical. I decided to make a fruit salsa. I combined perfectly ripe pineapple, roasted red peppers and an assortment of tomatoes and hot peppers. No small mammal could come up with something this good. This cheery, sweet and hot salsa should keep me remembering the good ol’ days of summer well into fall--if it lasts that long.
End-of-Summer Habanero-Pineapple Salsa
1 red bell pepper, roasted
1 serrano, roasted
1/2 poblano, roasted
1-2 habanero peppers, not roasted (though you could try it)
1/4 pineapple, de-cored and skinned, roasted
2 large red tomatoes
1 handful of sweet cherry tomatoes (Sungold are my favorites)
1 Green Zebra tomato
1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro
1 tsp salt
3 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp lime juice
1 large clove garlic, crushed or finely chopped
1. Preheat grill to about 350 or 400 to roast peppers and pineapple. I would like to say you can also do this under a broiler or on a stovetop, but it never works for me. Inevitably I burn them, or they don’t blacken evenly. Anyway, grill the peppers except habanero (or feel free to experiment) until skin is evenly blackened and blistered. Immediately put them in a plastic bag and close. Let the peppers “sweat” for 15 minutes or so. The skin should peel right off. Slit peppers, remove seeds.
2. Stick roasted Serrano and poblano in a blender. Don’t blend yet!
3. Add half of roasted red pepper to blender. Chop other half into small pieces and put in bowl.
4. Cut pineapple by cutting off the top and bottom. Stand pineapple up and slice off outer green “skin.” Cut lengthwise down middle and then cut out core in a triangular shape. Eat the core. Do this to both sides. You should have 4 lengths of pineapple. To get my exact measurements, you have to eat 2 chunks of pineapple. Stick the rest on the grill and grill about 5 minutes on each side until just browned.
5. Slice three large chunks (about 1 cup?) from 1 piece and set in blender. Chop another 2 chunks or so into small pieces and place in bowl with red pepper pieces. I have about 1 and a half pieces left for breakfast!
6. Place 1 large tomato, roughly cut, 1 Zebra or other smallish yellow tomato, and a handful of sweet cherry tomatoes in blender.
7. Blend away. Set aside.
8. Put gloves or plastic bags over hands. Cut habanero in half and remove seeds. Finely chop pepper and put into bowl. Discard pepper pieces and gloves. Wash hands. This stuff can hurt!
9. Chop 1 red tomato and cilantro and put into bowl.
10. Add the blended mixture to bowl of chunky pieces and stir.
11. Now comes the fun part. Add a touch of salt, a squeeze of lemon and lime, crushed or chopped garlic, vinegar, and anything else you think I missed.
12. Enjoy with chips, on fish, or any other way you deem delicious. Photo shows Trader Joe's plantain chips.Yum!
P.S. Since this is not canned, it need to be refrigerated and used within a week or so, or can be frozen, though it will lose texture. You could blend it before or after freezing to avoid mushiness or freeze parboiled tomatoes and diced peppers and get other ingredients as needed. Let me know how it works for you!