Posts tagged salsa

Quick black bean salsa

Black beans and salsa make a tasty combo. The beans give the salsa heft, while the tomatoes, peppers and lime add a punch of flavor to beans that might otherwise go—well, let’s admit it–uneaten. So if you’ve always been reaching for pinto beans or refried beans at the grocery store, go ahead a pick up a can or two of black.

These smaller beans are just slightly harder than pinto. They also have a meatier flavor. Now I could also point out that black beans top pinto in terms of nutritional value and fiber content, but what I really like about them in this dish is the color—the shiny black color pops against the red tomato and the specks of green cilantro. So if you’re family usually shuns beans, this colorful combination might just convince them to give it a try.

Now a word about the chili peppers: First, I run the knife lengthwise across the pepper, then open it up and remove the seeds. Some people wear gloves to do this but I just make sure to wash my hands well after messing with the seeds. The oil from the seeds can sting if it gets in your eyes so be careful. I add the pepper in parts—1/4 at a time. It’s easy to add a little heat and a whole lot harder to take it out if you put in too much. I’d stir all the ingredients together, let it sit for half an hour, then add more if the heat isn’t enough. I save any extras in a small plastic baggy to put into other dishes. Also, while fresh is best, you can use pickled jalapeno peppers.

Recipe

Prep time: 10 minutes

Servings: 1 1/2 cups

Ingredients

1 19.75-ounce can black beans (or similar size)

2 medium tomatoes

½ cup cilantro, chopped

2 limes (or one if it’s really juicy)

1 small onion

1 jalapeno or Serrano chili pepper

salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Drain the liquid from the black beans place in a mixing bowl.
  2. Chop the tomatoes and onion into small, uniformly sized pieces. Add them to the beans
  3. Remove the seeds from the pepper carefully then add ¼ to the mix. Test the heat level and add more until you reach the desired level.
  4. Squeeze the juice from two limes directly into the salsa.
  5. Add the cilantro, salt and pepper, stir and adjust seasonings, then serve with tortilla chips.
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Quick chipotle pico de gallo

I know Cinco de Mayo was last week and I’m still talking (and eating) Mexcian food. But I wanted to pass along my favorite pico de gallo, or fresh salsa, recipe. Pico de gallo (we just call it ‘pico’ at my house) is so quick and easy to make it’s fun to play up the flavor by going beyond the traditional tomato-onion-cilantro combo.

My addition? Spicy chipotle. (Chipotle peppers are smoked, dried jalapenos.) But before I get the chipotle, let’s talk pico. What distinguishes pico from other Mexican salsas it that it’s made with fresh ingredients, meant to be eaten right away. Pico doesn’t keep more than a day in the fridge and frankly it’s really not nearly as good on day #2. Other salsas are often made with dried or roasted chiles that are cooked and then cooled, meaning they can last for several days or even weeks in the fridge.

Back to the pico: I follow the 3 to 1 rule–three parts tomato to one part each onion and cilantro. Once I have that base, it’s time to add the spice. I usually throw in one, chopped serrano pepper (fresh or pickled jalapenos are fine too) and then my favorite flavor these days, chipotle. You can find 7-ounce cans of chipotle in adobo sauce in the Mexican food section of most grocery stores (popular brands are La Costena, San Marcos or Embasa). Now you can simply mix a teaspoon or more to taste of the adobo sauce into your pico. But I wanted to have bits of chipotle flavor as a kick instead of an all-over zing so I added one chipotle pepper into my mini food processor along with a handful of dried cherries (you could also use dried cranberries or even raisins, trust me, no one will be able to taste the dried fruit it’s just a carrier for the chipotle).

And if you’re wondering what to do with the extra chipotle, save it to mix into scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes, barbecue sauce, salad dressing, meatballs, or anywhere you want a bit of smokiness in your dish.

So for those of you starting to plant your garden, make sure to save some room for extra tomato plants that way you’ll have plenty for fresh pico de gallo later. I read through several no-pain gardening tips on Motherboard. Frankly I like the idea of using raised beds–looking at the picture I could have a big pot for my tomatoes without planting my entire garden plot (I have no green thumb so I like the idea that I could start small).

Chipotle Pico de Gallo Recipe

Prep time: 10 minutes

Yield: About 1 1/2 cups (easily doubled or tripled)

Ingredients

1 cup fresh tomato chopped into small pieces

1/2 medium onion

1/2 bunch cilantro leaves

1/2 of one lime

1 small fresh pepper (jalapeno or serrano)

salt and pepper to taste

1 chipotle pepper (or 1 teaspoon adobo sauce)

1 Tablespoon dried fruit

Directions

  1. Chop the fresh tomatoes and onions into equal pieces (about the size of your pinky nail). Place in a kitchen bowl.
  2. Add chopped cilantro. Once the leaves are washed, I use my kitchen shears to trim the leaf pieces right in.
  3. Squeeze the juice of half a lime into the pico.
  4. Chop the pepper, being careful to remove and discard the seeds from the jalapeno (if you’re using). You may want to add just half of the pepper first and check the heat before adding more (it’s always easier to add more heat but pretty impossible to take it out).
  5. In a food processor, pulse the dried fruit and one chipotle pepper. Alternatively, you can use 1 teaspoon of the sauce and omit the dried fruit.
  6. Mix the chipotle into the tomato mixture and serve with chips or with tacos.

Your turn–are you a pico de gallo fan? What about chipotle, do you like the smoky flavor?

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Why aren’t you eating…serrano peppers

Photo credit: Wikipedia

I’m celebrating Cinco de Mayo all week long with info and recipes all about my favorite Mexican foods. So let’s get right to it. Serranos. You have to look carefully at this picture, but the serranos sold at my local market are always green (squint and you’ll see ‘em in between the red ones).

I prefer the flavor and bite of serranos to jalapeno peppers in fresh salsas and guacamole. (And truth be told, serranos are much more common in Mexico than jalapenos anyway.)

See jalapenos have a strong initial heat at the front of your mouth. The zing is overwhelming to the point I can’t taste what I’m eating. But serranos have a different heat experience entirely. It comes at the back of your throat, a little sweet, tingling of heat, building as you munch.

I usually toss in a serrano or two whenever I want to add some heat to a Mexican dish. For a real kick, don’t bother seeding them. For you slow cookers out there–add these to the pot too (the heat will diminish the longer you cook ‘em).

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Blueberry Salsa–It’s tastier than you think!

Yes, you read that right, blueberry salsa. I know, I thought it would be a bad combo too. I mean blueberries are naturals in muffins, pancakes, cheesecakes, but a spicy, savory mix of cilantro, lime, tomatoes, chiles, and…blueberries? Before you dismiss this salsa as gimmicky (like I almost did) hear me out.

First, it’s nearly the end of blueberry season—meaning your family is probably getting a little bored of blueberries in muffins, even if you do top it with streusel. Second, why not do a little Midwest-Mexican fusion? And last, but most important, they really do taste good in salsa.

With its sour, spicy flavors, salsa literally begs for a pop of sweetness—enter the blueberry. Mixing a few blueberries into your standard salsa recipe not only gives it that ‘wow’ factor, it also gives salsa a burst of tart flavor. Now, blueberries won’t work in any salsa recipe. I recommend it for a pico de gallo, which is a simple, but satisfying mix that you can throw together a few minutes before serving your meal. Although, you could easily serve this salsa as an appetizer (blue corn chips are fun with this), pairing it with grilled pork, chicken or even a light fish like tilapia makes for a meal (just don’t go topping your t-bone, blueberries and beef are still a no-no).

If you’re ready for something different for dinner tonight, pick up some blueberries and fresh chiles

.

Recipe

Serves: 4 to 6

Prep time: 15 minutes

5 medium-sized tomatoes (I prefer Romas)

1 red or yellow pepper

1 small-sized red onion

1 sprig cilantro

1 lime

1-2 Serrano chiles

½ cup blueberries (or more)

Salt and pepper to taste

Chop the tomatoes, pepper and onion into small pieces and place in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Cut the Serrano chile in half lengthwise; remove the stem and the seeds. Note: I used Serrano chiles instead of the usual jalapeno peppers. Jalapenos are okay, but I prefer the slightly sweeter kick of Serrano chiles. Both are readily available at most grocers. Serrano chiles tend to be smaller than jalapenos. Cut the chiles fine and add them to the tomato mix.

Cut the lime in half and squeeze half of the juice into the bowl. Stir. Mince 3 to 4 tablespoons of cilantro leaves on a cutting board and then add them to the mixing bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Adjust the flavor using the lime juice, salt and cilantro (you may even want to up the heat by adding another Serrano chile). Finally, stir in the blueberries being careful not to break the skin. Serve.

Remember to check in Tuesday for MKES’s next giveaway!

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