Monday, January 26, 2009

Tomato Salsa

This salsa takes almost no time to make, other than roasting and removing the seeds from the peppers.

Tomato Salsa


1 28 oz can of good quality plain crushed tomatoes in puree (see note below)
1/8-1/4 of a small sweet onion (if using 1/4 onion, cut it in half)
1-2 small dried red chiles
1 small clove of garlic
1 handful fresh cilantro
1 fresh, oven roasted, peeled red bell pepper
3 small, de-seeded, fresh peppers (I use a combination of jalapeno, yellow chile peppers, and red fresno peppers)
pinch of fresh or dried oregano
small sprinkle of ground cumin

1. Roast a fresh red bell pepper in the oven at 400 degrees until the skin blisters. Turn once or twice to roast it evenly. This shouldn't take more than 15-20 minutes.
2. Using a food processor with an S blade, chop the garlic, dried peppers, and add oregano and cumin to taste. Turn off food processor.
3. Remove the seeds from the small hot peppers. Cut the de-seeded fresh hot peppers into thirds or quarters. (This helps them chop evenly in the food processor.) Place in food processor bowl.
4. Peel roasted red bell pepper, remove seeds, and chop into 8 pieces and place in food processor bowl.
5. Add onion to food processor bowl.
6. Turn the food processor on and pulsate until all the peppers and onions are coarsely chopped. (Don't leave it on too long or it will turn to mush)
7. Add cilantro to food processor and pulsate quickly until it is chopped.
8. Push down all ingredients off the sides into the bottom of the food processor, then add the can of tomatoes.
9. Turn food processor on for a few seconds until salsa is well-blended.

Note on the tomatoes: Not all brands of canned tomatoes are equal. Some of the cheaper ones are almost all puree, which won't make good salsa. You need to find the ones that have more chunks of tomatoes than puree. The brands I've had most success with are Hunt's Crushed Tomatoes, and Sunflower Market brand crushed tomatoes (NOT the kind with basil added- read the label). Some of the more expensive brands are also full of puree, like Progresso and Muir Glen Organic Fire Roasted Crushed Tomatoes. Be sure to buy the ones without added herbs and seasonings or your salsa will taste more like spaghetti sauce than salsa.

Note on the red bell peppers: DON'T use jars of roasted red bell peppers, or worse, roasted marinated peppers. Barf me out of town! Use fresh peppers, it makes a huge difference.

Lime Chipotle Barbecue Chicken Salad

After a long break from blogging anything, I'm back. It took a while to get hungry. Thanks for your patience, not everyone has waited so patiently to get back to work.

This recipe is a perfect mid-winter break from hot food. It can be hard to find good produce in the middle of winter but it's worth it when you have a craving for something that tastes like summer.

Wait for the kitchen supervisor to check that you didn't forget something.

This recipe is easy to make, it involves making three mixtures in separate bowls and then combining everything at the end. One bowl is the pico de gallo-like mixture of cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, cilantro and lime juice.

Another bowl is the chicken, which is mixed with barbecue sauce and salsa to coat the diced chicken before it is added to the salad.

I used Whole Foods Chipotle Salsa. It's inexpensive and really good! I also used Sweet Baby Ray's Honey Chipotle Barbecue Sauce, I buy that at King Soopers. I use it in so many recipes, I wouldn't know how to cook if I ever ran out of it.

The supervisor and her assistant helped me this time. Isabelle, assistant kitchen supervisor, is shy and rarely makes appearances until the food is ready to eat. She tends to be less interested in cooking than Iris, who watches everything.

The final step is combining the greens, beans, corn, carrots, avocado, and any other veggies you put into the salad, and then mixing everything together in the serving bowls, sprinkle some cheese on top, and it's ready to eat.

You can't eat until the recipe gets Iris's approval.

Lime Chipotle Barbecue Chicken Salad


6-8 oz. of salad greens (I like baby spring mix, with arugula and watercress in it for flavor)
1/2 can black beans, drained
1/2 can corn, drained (use fresh corn in the summer)
1 cup of shredded carrots
1 large cucumber, peeled and diced into small cubes
2-3 large red ripe tomatoes, diced
1/2 cipollini onion or 1/3 cup sweet onion, finely chopped
1-2 green onions, sliced thin
a handful of chopped cilantro
juice of 1-2 limes
1 large ripe avocado, peeled and diced
1/2-3/4 cup of chipotle barbecue sauce
1/2-3/4 cup of chipotle salsa
2 cooked chicken breasts, diced
1/2-1 cup of shredded monterey jack cheese

1. Rinse the greens, drain and set aside.
2. In a separate bowl, combine the cucumber, onions, tomatoes, and cilantro, and squeeze lime juice on top.
3. Place the greens in a large bowl and add corn, beans, carrots, and cucumber mixture, including all of the lime juice.
4. Toss all of the above ingredients together, then add avocado and mix in.
5. In the separate bowl, combine chicken, barbecue sauce and salsa to taste. Mix until chicken is lightly coated with sauce.
6. Add cooked chicken to salad ingredients, toss entire mixture, or add chicken to individual serving bowls.
7. Add cheese on top of individual serving bowls, this keeps it from getting soggy.

It's important to use really good, fresh ingredients for this. If it's summer and you have a garden, grow your own tomatoes. One of my pet peeves is tasteless tomatoes. It's worth the price you pay for good ones. The mixture of tomatoes, cucumbers, cilantro, onions, and lime juice should resemble coarsely chopped pico de gallo. If you like it spicy, use hot salsa and barbecue sauce, or add a pinch of red chile to the sauce mixture, or use pepper jack cheese.

Cipollini onions look like miniature sweet onions. They are super sweet and very strong, if you're not a fan of onions go easy on these. I found them at Whole Foods but sometimes you can find them at a regular grocery store.

I left a lot of variation in the amounts of ingredients used. The amounts can be varied according to taste, dietary needs, etc. (e.g. if you need more carbs, use the whole can of beans and corn). To save time you can use cooked rotisserie chicken. This recipe serves 2 hungry athletes as a meal.