Cooking with cilantro in all seasons is one of them. I can’t do without it. Cilantro grows best in cooler weather, so I’m a little perplexed as to how it became a staple in Tex-Mex food in the first place, but being 100% pure Texan, I’m afraid it has a permanent place in my palate. That being said, I don’t break every seasonal rule. Fresh tomatoes only in season, canned (or otherwise preserved) out of season. No exceptions. People who don’t like tomatoes were probably raised on cold, refrigerated, tasteless tomatoes. Who would like a grainy pink little tennis ball for food anyway?
This salsa is scrumptious this time of year. Tomatoes are starting to recover again from the extreme Texas heat, and peppers are at their peak! The purist can leave out the cilantro, or even try dried coriander seed, but the results won’t be the same. To me, they taste entirely different.
The beauty of this recipe is that it is always a little different depending on what’s available, but the essence remains the same. I’ve used fresh large tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, yellow tomatoes, and canned tomatoes. My favorite onion to use here is white, but I’ve used red, tiny bulb, and yellow onions all with success.
You should know that a friend once gave me her piano in exchange for this recipe. It’s really true. You should also know that I would have given it to her without the exchange, but she never asked. And I do love the piano.
Note: A food processor is a must, unless you are a very patient person and don’t mind standing for hours mincing vegetables.
Hot Mama Salsa
Start layering the following into a full-sized food processor bowl:
1 large white onion, or in-season onion equivalent, cut into chunks
2 (or more) or more fresh peppers, serrano is my favorite
1 large handful of cilantro
3 -4 large tomatoes, chunked (or 2 pints cherry, or 6-8 small tomatoes, or 28 oz can whole tomatoes) Just take your fingers and quickly scoop or shake out the seeds. Not necessary for cherry sized.
2 big shakes of Lawry’s seasoned salt
Pulse the food processor until minced and large onion chunks are gone. Taste and adjust seasonings. Occasionally, I will add lime juice or vinegar to balance out the acidity.
Fermenting instructions: Use regular sea salt, iodine-free instead of Lawry’s and salt until it’s too salty to be tasty, but not where you would have to spit it out, usually around 1 heaping tablespoon. If using whey to ferment, use less salt. Let sit out on the counter for 3 days or so in a jar with a well-fitting lid, and then refrigerate. It should have a nice tangy feel to your tongue when ready.