Since mid-July, the test kitchen has been inundated with tomatoes. Eastern Tennessee had record-breaking temperatures and hardly any rainfall in June, followed by a few weeks of daily afternoon...
One of the small mercies of summer is water. Big, wide, open bodies of water. Oceans, lakes, slow rivers, ponds. And narrow, bracing bodies of water. Mountain streams, snaking tributaries. I am hard-pressed to choose which I prefer. Steeping in slightly cool bath water, floating like an errant leaf, or taking a teeth-chattering plunge in turbulent, icy streams.
Cold water does things to the body that I can’t explain. It wears you out, but in the best way possible. The best kind of swimming hole is one that you have to hike to. Preferably in the mid-afternoon so that you can walk back as the day cools. Huffing and puffing and sweating gets you ready for that uncannily cold water. Afterward, every muscle in my body unwinds, and like magic, I’m ready for dinner.
Unfortunately, even though my stomach seems to think I can just go home to a fully cooked meal, I haven’t been able to train my kitchen appliances to cook dinner for me yet. Maybe someday…in a galaxy far, far away.
But there’s a very simple solution to this. It’s called salsa.
Salsa was made for occasions like this.
Chop up some raw vegetables, open a bag of chips, maybe gussy it up with some cheese, black beans, meat or even baked tofu, and you’re done. I think we’ve made salsa every day for the past week, and it’s made its way into huevos rancheros, roasted potatoes and poblanos, and generally into my stomach via tortilla chip.
This salsa is loosely based on the Salsa Fresca in the JOY. That’s where I stole the radish idea from anyway. Radishes add fabulous texture to this salsa. More crunch without having huge chunks of raw onion in it (blech). The corn comes from a recent obsession with corn I’ve been struggling with. I have very fond memories of eating raw corn straight out of the field as a child, and this sort of dewy-eyed memory induces me to buy corn in late summer whenever I see it.
I love a chunky salsa. Chip-breaking salsa. If you like a smoother one, feel free to chop and chop and chop to your heart’s content (you could probably even use a food processor for this, but I haven’t tried it—as I said, I like my salsa chunky). The idea here, though, is to make this as fuss-free as possible. You can also expand this recipe exponentially, to make enough for a herd of guests if you need to. It’s really a taste thing. Just keep adding whatever you think the salsa needs—more garlic (always more garlic), more jalapeño…Follow your tongue.
In a medium bowl, combine:
4 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 bunch of scallions, green parts only, finely chopped
The corn from one large ear
5 radishes, minced
1-2 jalapeños, seeded and minced
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
Juice of 2-3 limes
Salt to taste