Salsa Fresca

The time has come. From recent tweets, it seems that everyone is wondering what to do with all the tomatoes.

And even though I try, each and every year, to proselytize everyone within ear/blog-shot to try tomato pie, there are only so many of those you can make in one season. This summer, I’ve been relying heavily on a classic salsa fresca to keep my counters free of over-ripening (and fruit-fly-drawing) tomatoes.

We didn’t grow jalapenos in our garden, but they’ve been coming in our box from Big City Farms — and those boxes have also been supplying us with small, sweet red peppers. The wonderful thing about a fresh salsa is that you can improvise a good deal, and still have something delicious. The basic necessities are tomatoes, onion (or scallion), garlic, and acid (lime or lemon juice, and/or vinegar). If you have cilantro, a handful is a classic addition — but I usually pass on it and go for the same amount of flat-leaf parsley (heresy in some circles, I know, but not in this one).

This makes a small amount of salsa — maybe 1 1/2 – 2 cups — so it won’t last long (not even a day in my house).  I’ve been making a batch at lunchtime, and throwing it on top of a simple cheese quesadilla, or simply scooping it up with blue corn chips until I’ve had my fill. It’s so satisfyingly tangy — and the tomatoes are sweet and able to shine in that way they can only do during summer months.

This recipe is adapted from one in Molly Katzen’s Moosewood Cookbook (I’ve simplified it a bit, and use jalapenos rather than red pepper flakes for heat).


Salsa Fresca (fresh tomato salsa)

  • 3 medium ripe tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 very small sweet pepper, chopped (optional)
  • 1 small jalapeno pepper, seeds and ribs removed, minced
  • 2 Tbsp cilantro or Italian parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp fresh lime juice (or more to taste)
  • 3/4 tsp salt

Toss all ingredients together in a small bowl. Taste, and add more salt or lime juice to taste. Refrigerate unused portion in a covered container.

12 thoughts on “Salsa Fresca

  1. I made 2 tomato pies this year and I ate most of both of them.
    I will keep this recipe for next year. I have plans to can salsa and other things.

  2. You read my mind! Thank you. And I already have all of this at the house– even better! How long would you say it will keep?
    I continue to preach the good news of tomato pie– converted a soul in Seattle just yesterday. I’ll make my first one of the season this Friday when my brother comes to town.

    1. Whoohoo!! One day, we TP-lovers will take over the world — one tangy, buttery bite at a time.

      I think the salsa should be good for several days, if not a full week. All that acid helps with longevity.

  3. I’ve been known to make ‘salsa’ with just tomatoes, red onion and basil.

    Any combo that involves fresh tomatoes, a little bit of something else and can be scooped up with chips makes the grade around here. I really need to remember to pick up limes!

    1. Your “salsa” sounds delish. Can’t go wrong with tomatoes and basil — and really, you’re right: simple chopped tomatoes could probably qualify. Maybe a little salt.

  4. summer to me is pretty much synonymous with fresh salsa… the tomatillos are coming in, so soon we’ll have salsa verde too! i’m going to have to try the tomato pie… any chance you have a good tomato pudding recipe? had it for first time at the hominy grill in charleston this summer, and it was ever so dreamy, but don’t know how to judge a good recipe as i’ve made nothing like it before.

    1. Do you have lots of tomatillos? I didn’t manage to grow them this year — but we hope to get some in our CSA box.

      I am totally and completely intrigued by a tomato pudding — I’ve never even heard of it, but it truly sounds like something to eat in Charleston. I’ve actually been to Hominy Grill — once, for lunch, it was good.

      Did you guys go to S.N.O.B.? Or Peninsula Grill? Both great places to eat.

  5. so consider me a tomato pie convert. yum.

    the tomatillos are trickling in… i’m just storing them in the fridge as they come, anxiously awaiting getting enough to merit salsa. though yesterday, i chopped a few fresh and put them in guacamole, which was absolutely delicious. i think i have had guacamole with them in it before, but never knew what i was eating. they add a really nice tart-sweet crunch.

    ahhh, eating in charleston. this year, because of the number of little ones in tow between my sister and I, we did more cooking at home, though i did make it to the lovely atlanticville on sullivan’s island. I have eaten at Peninsula Grill before (I don’t think I’ve made it to SNOB, though I’ve heard great things). I also thought Hominy Grill was good. Like good, quality home-cooked food, but nothing superlative. Everything kind of stayed in the same register. A better lunch than dinner choice, I think. I did make a mental note, however, to figure out tomato pudding. It was served in a ramekin and definitely involved butter and parmesan cheese–a tomato-based comfort food for sure. Next time you’re in Charleston, eat here:

    Ok, ending overly long blog comment now.

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