Monday, August 23, 2010

All fired up! Habenero Salsa!

This summer has been the perfect summer for growing tomatoes. I've been getting loads of free tomatoes from my family, so the next few recipes will be very tomato-y. This week I'm going to set you on fire with some homemade salsa. This recipe can be adapted to different heat strengths, so no fear weenies, you can tone down the pepper to suit your pallet. Onward!

Once you make your own salsa, you will have a hard time returning to the canned stuff. Fresh salsa is And refreshing! Start by quartering 1 and a half pounds of Roma or cherry tomatoes. Add them to a food processor. Roughly chop a quarter of a medium onion, a 1/4 cup of cilantro, and add them to the tomatoes. Add 1/2 tsp. garlic salt, 1/4 tsp. salt, 2 tsp. sugar, and 1 and a half Tbsp. of fresh lime juice. Carefully mince one large habanero and add as well. (See notes below.) Pulse 12 times and store in an air tight container. Let the flavors meld for at least a half hour. (If you don't have a food processor, just dice everything to desired chunkiness.)

Please note the glove. If you don't have gloves, it is possible to cut a habenero pepper barehanded without making yourself cry for hours afterward. You just have to be careful and follow my instructions: slice, dice, and mince the pepper; DO NOT TOUCH YOURSELF OR ANYONE ELSE; put the pepper pieces into the salsa; wash your knife and cutting board; wash your hands vigorously with generous amounts of dish soap; while your hands are still soapy rub your fingers into the lime pulp/inner peel, getting under your fingernails the best you can; rinse well; repeat washing steps if you feel the slightest bit of heat.
This isn't just an old wives tale. The dish soap has anti-grease properties releasing the capsaicin, the pepper's heating element, from the oily crevasse of your fingers. The lime acts as a brush and counteracts the heat as citrus juice tends to do.

Here's how to customize the spiciness. For mild salsa, use only a quarter of the habenero, discarding the membranes and seeds. For medium, use half of the pepper, deseeded. For hot, use the whole pepper, deseeded. For volcanic, cut up the entire pepper, seeds, skin, membrane, and all.

Pick up a chip and enjoy! I hope I didn't "burn" you out. Har har har.

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