What’s Cookin’ at Callie’s Cabin Make your own salsa with a Tahoe twist
Special to the Tribune
For a long time, I’ve had a thing going on with salsa, the fresh stuff created with raw tomatoes, chili peppers, onions, and other hot and good for you ingredients. On the South Shore, I’ve dabbled in salsa, from a local maker’s to live for brand to the late little colorful Mexican food place at Bijou Pines. I stay clear of the bottled and canned stuff, especially when fresh vegetables and herbs can take you to salsa heaven.
Ah, there’s something about hot salsa and crunchy tortilla chips that’s got me hooked. One time at Chevys Fresh Mex I sat down and was served chips and salsa ASAP. It’s like going to our former Sizzler – immediate gratification. I pulled another high maintenance gal scene to get what I want. I announced with the greatest of ease, “Please hold the beans, extra tomatoes and cheese with olive oil and vinegar on the side.” Alas, as I waited for my order, I filled up on smooth restaurant-style salsa and crisp chips along with sips of hot tea.
Then, my spectacular salad was placed on the table. It was an eye-catching masterpiece. But when I tasted a forkful of the taco salad something was wrong. I was unpleasantly surprised. “Help!” I cried. “Waitress?” I whined like a girl in distress. “There are fuzzy beans on the bottom layer in my salad – and the veggies are warm.” A communication error was made. I frowned like I lost my best friend. I noted my allergy to beans. (I’m not sure if I really have one but when I was a kid I did get sick after eating kidney beans served at school lunch.) No problem. Our waitress apologized for our different ideas of a taco salad – hot and cold. Without hesitation, she brought me a new, improved salad and extra salsa for the chilled greens in the salad.
The past weekend I took the plunge and made my own salsa and dipped into salsa land and I may never go back to restaurant or store bought plastic tub kinds. To put together fresh ingredients and let ’em chill before dipping is an unforgettable experience for your palate. What’s more, there’s no sodium (like in some brands) or ingredients that you can’t pronounce.
Chunky Mountain Salsa
6 Roma Tomatoes, diced
3 tablespoons green onions, chopped
1⁄3 cup red onion, chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, chopped
2 cloves garlic, fresh, chopped
3 tablespoons cilantro, fresh
1⁄2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Black pepper and sea salt to taste
In a large metal bowl, mix up chopped tomatoes, onions, peppers, and garlic. Add olive oil and pepper and salt to taste. Put in fridge for a few hours up to overnight to end up with a more flavorful salsa. Serve with whole grain tortilla chips (another plus of making this appetizer at home).
While I’m on a roll with my DIY salsa, did I note that this sauce, especially homemade, is healthy stuff? Tomatoes are rich in vitamin C. Onions and garlic contain plenty of immune-boosting antioxidants, too. And, there is no fat, cholesterol, and little calories in home-style salsa. But caution, go easy on the garlic, peppers, and onions if you’re prone to heartburn.
So, will I ever buy the fresh salsa again at our local Safeway? Today, I have to say that’s a tough call. Once you make, chill, and dip a whole grain chip into the cold, chunky red sauce chock-full of your colorful springtime peppers from your fridge – it’s an awesome awakening. Welcome, to real salsa, real stuff made in the comfort of your real home in the mountains.
Motto: Take the time and effort to make good food in your abode for health’s sake and great taste that’ll wow your taste buds.
– Cal Orey is an author and journalist. Her books include “The Healing Powers” series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate) published by Kensington. Her website is http://www.calorey.com.