Have I mentioned that I am volunteering with our high school garden project? One of the challenges of the garden is to keep things going until school starts. In Michigan, it is mandated that school starts after Labor Day - one of our previous governors did a really smart thing and signed a bill into law that prevented school from starting until after Labor Day to save our tourist industry here in Michigan. The teachers unions really like starting school in mid August so more days could be taken off during the school year, but as a parent, I really like starting after Labor Day so much better! Summer always seems like it doesn't last long as it is - I'm glad to wait until September to say goodbye to summertime and start anew.
However, the first year of our school garden has lots of tomatoes ready right now, and so I brought home a bag of them, along with various and sundry peppers so they wouldn't go to waste. We are having the most ferocious mosquito infestation I have every experienced here in the Mitten (they do get pretty bad in the Upper Peninsula, though) and my trip today to the garden resulted in me running back to the car covered in bugs. I had some habaneros in the bag, and some yellow Hungarian peppers. At home, I had some other mildly hot peppers ready to go, too. But I have no cilantro - I can never get cilantro and tomatoes at the same time here in Michigan, so I went on the search for a salsa that didn't require it.
Last month's Saveur featured some salsa recipes - I am always inspired by Saveur, but sometimes their recipes don't work out well. They featured a salsa recipe called chiltomate, which is from southeast Mexico. It didn't include cilantro, which was a bonus to me! I gave it a try and I am a convert. It is super easy - all you have to do is roast the vegetables in the onion and throw them in the blender. No chopping required! Here's my take on it this evening - I like to eat it served warm on chips, but it would be great on chicken or eggs, too. Also, it's tasty cold, too.
Mom's Kitchen Chiltomate
15 small tomatoes, cored
5 mild to medium peppers
2 (or more) really hot peppers, like habaneros
6 cloves garlic
1 large onion
Preheat oven to 500 F. Line a cookie sheet with foil, and place cored tomatoes and peppers on the sheet. Bake 10 - 20 minutes until peppers are blackened. Remove peppers and place in blender with the raw garlic After another 20 or so minutes, when the tomatoes are darkened and cooked through, remove the pan from the oven and add the tomatoes to the blender with the peppers and puree until smooth.
Dice the onion small and saute in the oil until soft, about 10 minutes. And the puree and heat for another 10 minutes. Add kosher salt, small amounts at a time, until the salsa tastes perfect. You will know when you've added enough salt - the flavor just will pop out at you.