There is nothing quite like the taste of a summer tomato, recently plucked from the vine. Salsa made in the winter is quite bland by comparison, and if you didn’t have the luck and the joy of preserving a homemade batch, you’re almost better to buy a jar.
But this time of year, fresh vine-ripened tomatoes are readily available, especially at my beloved farmer’s markets. What’s even more exciting, is the sheer abundance of varieties that can be found there… types you would never find in a grocery store. Heirloom tomatoes are so interesting and unique… and so pretty! They come in green stripes, purple, yellow, orange, and many shades of red. The shapes vary from large and round to medium, oval, cherry-sized, and pear-shaped. Even the ‘cherry’ tomatoes had about 8-10 separate bins for each variety!! They are so deliciously sweet that I am prone to grab handfuls for anything from salad to stir-frys.
Yesterday I had the pleasure to help Tara & Richard from The Whole Food Project cater a lunch for 40 hard-working and compassionate staff of the Urban Native Youth Association (UNYA) in Vancouver, and I decided to make my fresh summer salsa. Heirloom tomatoes added a rich texture and colour to the salsa, complimented by lime zest and juice, market green onions, and fresh cilantro.
What goes great with salsa? Tortillas!! I’ve been baking my own tortillas for a few years now, and find them quite superior in quality to the store-bought ones, not to mention how much healthier they are. And there’s something about the satisfaction of baking my own that makes me appreciate every little bite even more.
I try to find a package of soft tortillas that don’t contain too many ingredients. Often I use brown rice tortillas, as I did here, because they get really crunchy when they’re baked, and can really satisfy my nagging chip cravings. And they’re gluten-free!
You can use the fancy-pants method, as pictured above, where I mix extra virgin olive oil with the zest of a lime or two and some course sea salt, brush it on each tortilla (one side only, since they’ll get some from the tortilla underneath when they’re stacked), then cut the whole stack into triangles with a large knife. Bake in a single layer at 350F, for 7-10 minutes per side. Watch them carefully because they can burn very quickly! You want them gold to light brown; any lighter and they are chewy, not crispy.
Or for a more rustic approach, you can bake the intact tortillas after being brushed, and break them up once they’ve cooled for a few minutes.
Either way, they are crispy and delicious, and if you don’t gobble them all up in one go, you can put them back into the zip-locked tortilla bag they came in!
Reason #1: Homemade salsa & tortillas are healthier, with less additives then store-bought.
Reason #2: Tomatoes are packed full of vitamins like A, C and E. They are powerhouses of the antioxidant and cancer-fighting lycopene.
Reason #2: You will be a hit at the summer BBQ when you say you made your own.
Heirloom Tomato Salsa
What you’ll need:
4 ripe tomatoes, or equivalent of heirlooms, juicy seeds removed
1 cup tightly packed fresh cilantro
6 green onions
Juice and zest of 2 limes (preferably organic since you’re zesting the outer peel)
1 chipotle pepper (canned; the rest can be frozen individually on a tray, then stored in the
freezer in a zip-lock bag for future use)
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt to taste
What to do:
- Coarsely chop the tomatoes and green onions.
- Put all ingredients in a food processor and pulse several times until you reach your desired chunkiness or smoothness.
- If you don’t have a food processor you can dice everything up, and mix well.
- Refrigerate until ready for use.
- Serve with Home-Baked Tortillas – method described in the blog above!