August got here way too soon. I could live all year in summer, hiking in the desert foothills at dawn, sitting out, directly in the sun during “severe heat warning” afternoons. Watching sudden “flash flood warning” thunderstorms. Watching the mini-bunnies grow up.
And going to the farmer’s market. Made it on Saturday, which I don’t always — there’s always stuff to do and getting up in time on Saturday is a challenge.
Last Saturday I was lured out by the promise of fat, ripe tomatoes and big yellow onions and fresh sweet corn. In the last 20 days I’ve done a 10-day cycle of juice cleanse, my first ever, which I think I may have done wrong, because I enjoyed it and used my blender for the juicing itself. This was followed by 10 days of Atkins induction, which I’m just finishing, but with the addition of fresh fruit — it’s summer.
Saturday was the break. I came home with quite the bounty, and put together a simple lunch out of the fresh produce and various cheeses already on hand.
Fresh salsa and chips with chicken for dinner. My favorite salsa is fresh, chunky, all the flavors married by sitting together and mingling, exploding at each bite. Rick prefers the blended salsa, everything pureed into a colorful near-liquid. So I do both, making the salsa as one and splitting the batch in half: part left chunky, part pureed.
This is simple, sunny and tasty. Before serving, and before blending a portion, I pour the whole of it into a fine mesh strainer to remove most of the liquid. What drains in the collection bowl may be eye-wateringly spicy from jalapeno, but tastes like a fresh, rather wonderful V-8 (even better, in my opinion, because there’s no overwhelming taste of bell pepper).
Fat ripe summer tomatoes, not Roma style – mix up colors if you want
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Fresh cilantro to taste
Fresh oregano optional
Halve the tomatoes and squeeze out the juice, collecting it for some other recipe or just as fresh tomato juice if seeds don’t bother you. Chop the tomato into rough bites – my pieces are around half an inch in size.
Yellow onion to taste. I like to halve a big fat farmer’s market yellow onion, skin it and cut it into roughly quarter inch pieces.
Jalapeno – I use one to two, depending on how much they make my eyes water and how numb my lips go from tasting one. I generally leave out about 80 percent of the seeds — I like the taste of salsa; I don’t want to seer my tonsils.
Mix the vegetables in a medium sized glass or nonreactive bowl. Cut cilantro and oregano, if using, into shreds and mix into the vegetables. Sea salt and black pepper to taste.
Cover with plastic wrap so everything else in the refrigerator doesn’t end up tasting like onion and jalapeno, and let cool and mingle until you’re ready to drain and either puree or just eat as is.
To me, this is the taste of summer.