In Memory Of Karen Nicole Smith, 1972 - 2016

Big Bad Summer Salsa.

This recipe takes me back to Dorado on the north coast of Puerto Rico. I recall it being scorching hot (when you leave the winter month of February in Canada the sun seems more intense), and a bucket of Corona (5) at the bar was $20 and, like all Caribbean watering holes, the music was PUMPING from their sound system! A basic salsa was served with tostones (plantain) and while that salsa could never match the one I’m about to share, but for some reason it tasted grand.

You’ll Need…

8-10 tomatoes (I used Roma)
1/2 medium onion (diced)
5 garlic scapes (optional)
2 Thai peppers (spicy)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 lime (juice)
1 teaspoon sea salt (divided)
1 avocado (diced)
1 tablespoon chopped shado beni (or cilantro)
2 cloves garlic (smashed)
2 tablespoon olive oil (divided)

Notes. I grilled 1/2 of the tomato and left the others raw. It was the same for the 2 spicy (any spicy pepper you like) peppers, I grilled one and kept one raw (explained why in the video below). IMPORTANT! If you’re making this recipe as part of your gluten free diet, please go through the full list of ingredients to make sure they meet with your specific gluten free dietary needs.

Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the Garlic Scapes, 1 of the spicy peppers and 4 of the tomatoes, then place them on a hot grill. Should you not have a grill, you may use your oven (450 F). Basically you’re trying to charr everything, but in the case of the tomato (which will take much longer to cook), you want to actually roast (about 8-10 minutes) them.

Let’s go back inside now and finish things off. In your mortar, place the salt, grilled pepper and garlic. crush until you have a somewhat smooth paste.

By this time the tomatoes should be cool enough for you to remove the skin. Place them in the mortar and crush them with the paste we made. Try to allow the tomato to retain some texture.

Give the garlic scapes and grilled pepper a fine chop. Then remove the stem/core (discard) from the raw tomatoes we didn’t grill, and dice those as well. The goal is to have a grilled and raw component to the salsa, for texture and flavor.

Add everything to a mixing bowl, including the diced onion and black pepper. At this time you may add your diced avocado, along with the juice of a lime.

While in most cases you’ll top this with chopped cilantro, I opted (I had in my garden) for Chadon Beni (culantro) and the remaining tablespoon of olive oil.

Taste and adjust the salt to your liking and BOOM… you’ve got a kick-ass summer salsa, based on my memories of being in Puerto Rico.

What are garlic scapes, exactly? These green stalks extend from the base of hardneck garlic plants, resembling oversize chives or scallions. They’re related to but different from green garlic (the bulbs and shoots of garlic plants that haven’t fully matured)

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1 Comment

  1. Stephanie Dubeau
    May 31, 2023 / 8:27 pm

    Hi Chris I would love to grow shado beni in my own garden, wondering if you have any tips on where to find seeds/plants? I’ve bought at Nations but would be so great fresh out of the garden, I’m also in Hamilton đŸ™‚
    Thank you we love your recipes in our house!

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