Garden-fresh garlic, onion, peppers and tomatoes mean it's the perfect season for homemade salsa

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By: Jim Carpenter

Jennifer Shephard/Flavor 574

My talents in the kitchen don’t get tested very often, but one dish I like to make this time of year is fresh salsa.

For me, it is pretty special when most all of the ingredients come straight from the garden. With fresh garlic, onions, peppers and tomatoes pretty much at their peak of maturity in the garden right now, it was time to make a batch of salsa.5

I first tried making salsa just the other year while my wife was out of town. When she got home, she was impressed with what I had made. Granted, whatever points I may have earned with her for my culinary efforts were diminished somewhat when I admitted that I had forgotten to wash the vegetables.

Since my vegetables end up pretty chunky, we like to use the scoop type of corn chip to eat the salsa with. I have learned not to purchase the corn chips until just before I am ready to make the salsa, as the chips may not last long enough otherwise.

The recipe I like to use is a combination of a few techniques I found on the internet.

One thing I like to do that is a new idea for most people is to run boiling water over my chopped-up garlic and onions before I add them to the mixture. I put all my garlic and onion together in a strainer and heat a cup or two of water in a tea kettle. When it comes to a boil, I simply pour it over the mixture in the strainer. I am not sure how this helps the salsa, but it sure does seem to add something extra.

I was never much good at measuring ingredients, so when I talk about what I put into my salsa it will be in general terms. I kind of eyeball how many tomatoes, peppers and onions I want to use. If it looks like there is too much of one ingredient, I will simply pop in another pepper or tomato or maybe another onion.

The batch I just made the other day was the first of the year for me and the first time I got to use my own garlic. I probably put in about five cloves of garlic to go with two or three small- to medium-sized onions.

After I had poured the hot water over them, I added this mixture to the four or five medium-sized tomatoes I had just chopped up. The tomatoes I happened to use were Brandywine and Celebrity with a few Roma thrown in for good measure.

I chopped up probably three small bell peppers and the one jalapeno pepper I found in the fridge. I normally would have added more hot pepper, but this proved to be sufficient.

Into this mixture I put about a half teaspoon of salt and about a half teaspoon of cumin. I ground quite a lot of fresh pepper into the salsa, as I think pepper is underrated as a flavorful and healthy spice. The last ingredient I added was the juice of one lime. I thought a whole lime might be too much, but the end result was perfect.

I mixed this together thoroughly and proceeded to eat a good portion of what I had just made in the taste testing process.

I did not plant any cilantro this year, so I had picked up a small bundle at the store when I was there. My wife and I had eaten about half the salsa before I realized I had totally forgotten to add the cilantro.

I know there are a lot of die-hard cilantro-in-the-salsa fans out there but believe me this was some mighty fine salsa even without it. This batch lasted my wife and I about a day and a half!

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