balsamic tomato salsa

balsamic tomato salsa

Stewed tomatoes.  I was cleaning out my pantry, and came across a can that I must have mistakenly bought.  I just stared at it.  Trying not to be wasteful, I stood there thinking of how I could use it but something in my genetic make up won’t allow it.  My mother, however, (insert the saying “bless her heart” HERE), seemed to think that they went with every skillet dinner we had growing up.  I just couldn’t get past the weirdly shaped, skinless, lifeless chunks.  They looked like someone beat the life out of them and then canned them up because no one else wanted them.  I love tomatoes any other way – sliced, diced, raw, sauced – oh wait, that’s me!  So anyway, they often got picked around at dinner.  Now, as an adult, I am laughing at myself because I still can’t open a can of stewed tomatoes.  I just can’t.  But who needs them?  Like I said, there are so many ways to eat tomatoes.  This recipe can go a few ways.  It can be a jalapeño type salsa made with lime juice or red wine vinegar, or turn it into a salad with feta and orzo.  But the number one tip is to us the best ingredients you can since everything is fresh.  I also  prefer to use grape tomatoes since they hold their shape better when mixing everything together, but use diced if you prefer.  This one was made to go with a swordfish dinner we were having.  It was so good, that I had to break it out again from the fridge a few days later, and have some as an appetizer.  Love you mom!

swordfish and tomato salsa

mixed salsa

balsamic tomato salsa

1/2  pint of organic red grape tomatoes, quartered
1/2  pint of organic golden grape tomatoes, quartered
1/2  pint of kalamata olives, sliced (or any combination of olives)
1/2  English cucumber, peeled and diced
6  scallions, sliced
2  Fresno chilis, sliced
10  basil leaves, julienned
3  TB Aged balsamic vinegar (not your run of the mill balsamic vinegar)
1  TB extra virgin olive oil
pinch crushed red pepper
kosher salt and ground black pepper

yellow grape tomatoes

diced cucumber

fresno chilis


get started on the salsa:

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and drizzle with the balsamic vinegar and olive oil.  Add the pinch of crushed red pepper.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Mix gently.  Serve at room temperature or chilled.

basil leaves



hot pepper vinegar

pickled peppers

Canning and pickling are not in my wheelhouse.  My sister seems to have inherited those abilities, and spends nights and weekends filling her pantry (and possibly under her bed!) with all sorts of canned goods.  I just can’t be bothered with all that boiling and worrying about top popping failures.  I got sh*t to do.  But when the end of a season  comes for certain vegetables, something inside of me still wants to buy massive amounts of veggies and save them.  So I’ve since found a happy medium.  Easy refrigerator pickles are my answer to canning.  I get the pretty jar, and the goodies inside for a few weeks, and I feel like I have accomplished something.  Ok, so I don’t have a stocked pantry, but that is what sisters are for, right?
So while at the farmers market recently, I had in mind to buy some cute patty pan squash and pickle them, but since I know nothing about seasons, they didn’t have any.  I then saw a full basket of assorted of hot peppers – jalapeños, Habanero, Thai chile peppers – you name it.  They were calling me.  Some people may call it a twisted sense of joy, but I wanted to buy them all.  I refrained, but only because I knew I was just going to try making one jar of this vinegar recipe.   The big question loomed if the vinegar would truly be tasty, or would turn out to be liquid fire.  I was pleasantly surprised.  I think adding in some milder chiles helped, plus I didn’t slice into the Habanero (I don’t know what came over me?).  Since making them, I’ve made a quick vinaigrette, tossed the diced peppers into meals, and of course daring my kids to eat them like pickles.

peppers and garlic

hot pepper vinegar  (adapted from Cooking Light June 2013)

4  cups hot chile peppers
4  garlic cloves, halved
1 1/2  cups white wine vinegar
2 1/2  tsp sugar
1/2  tsp salt

sliced peppers

get started on the vinegar:

Slice 6-8 peppers in half lengthwise.  Layer and arrange the peppers and garlic in a 1-quart glass jar.  Combine the vinegar, sugar and salt in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.  Cook 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves.  Do not let mixture evaporate too much.  Pour vinegar mixture over peppers.  Cool to room temperature (so jar doesn’t break).  Cover and refrigerate at least 1 week.

jar of pepperspeppers