It started with tomatoes. Whole Foods sent me on an heirloom tomato shopping spree (the best kind of shopping spree?). At home, standing over my yellow and red and stripey green and deep purple and blush pink bounty, I thought about beautiful tarts and sandwiches and simple salads, but what I really saw in those tomatoes was a deceptively simple bowl of pico de gallo.
Heirloom tomatoes in salsa are a beguiling revelation because when you first dip into that seemingly mundane bowl, you know what it's going to taste like, but then it's different. It's sweeter, and at the same time a little more tart. It's hard to put your finger on the difference except that you didn't know salsa could be this good. It's round with lusty tomato flavor.
I put that heaping bowl in the middle of the table, and then nestled fresh baked chips, and slices of cucumber, and creamy warm beans, and a pitcher of margaritas all around it and called it dinner.
Salsa this good deserves to be the main course.
Now it's your turn. Tell me about your favorite way to eat beautiful summer tomatoes in the comments below, and I'll enter you in a drawing to win your own tomato shopping spree with a $50 Whole Foods gift card. Contest closes Thursday, September 5, at 12AM PST. I'll announce the winner that morning.
Heirloom Tomato Pico de Gallo
Choose a variety of heirlooms to make this beautiful and sweet, but if you need to stretch your tomato dollar, you could totally opt for one big gloriously fat pineapple tomato and flesh it out with some usually cheaper romas.
makes: about 4 cups salsa
takes: about 30 minutes
- 1 white onion, finely diced
- 2 pounds heirloom tomatoes
- 1 - 2 small chiles
- 1/2 bunch cilantro, or 1/2 cup finely chopped
- 1 - 2 tablespoons lime juice, to taste
- 1 - 2 teaspoons salt, to taste
Rinse the chopped onion, and then cover it with cool water and let it soak while you chop up the rest of the ingredients. You can skip this step if you have a fresh sweet onion. In the meantime, chop up the tomatoes, and mince the chiles and cilantro. In a large mixing bowl, gently fold them together along with a squeeze of lime and a few good pinches of salt. Drain the onion, shaking or patting it dry, and add it to the salsa. Stir to combine the flavors. Taste with a chip. Adjust lime juice, salt, and chile to your liking.
Baked Tortilla Chips
makes: 96 chips
takes: about 20 minutes, 2 active
- 1 dozen corn tortillas
- 1 - 2 tablespoons oil
Heat the oven to 350. Stack your tortillas on a cutting board, and then cut the stack into eighths. In a large bowl, toss the tortilla wedges with a good drizzle of oil and a few big pinches of salt. When they're well coated, spread them out on a baking sheet. Or if you want more uniformally crunchy chips, arrange them in a single layer on two sheets. I prefer both less fuss and a variety of textures in my chips - the crisp brown edges and occasional chewy bites let you know that these totally didn't come out of a bag. Bake for 15 - 18 minutes, with a flip half-way through. (More like 12 if you're going the single layer route.) Keep a close eye on them towards the end of baking. If any chips are looking really brown before the rest, pull them off and put the tray back in. Those are taster chips for the cook. When the rest are golden and crisp, whisk them to the table to enjoy warm with your heaping bowl of fresh salsa.