by Nancy Sweet
Ahhh … summertime in the Midwest! We are suffering through heat and humidity, but with that comes fantastic summer fruits and vegetables. Peaches, tomatoes, peppers, berries, melons – so much to choose from!
And with this heat and humidity, I try to keep my oven off as much as possible so as not to heat up the house any more than it already is. Because of that, we do lots of grilling and minimize how much we use the stovetop by making no-cook (or very little cooked) sauces, salsas and relishes. They are lighter and a great accompaniment to grilled meats, fish and seafood. Plus, they can be made ahead of time to be used later.
Salsa, which translates as “sauce,” is usually thought of as a dip originating from Mexican cuisine that is uncooked, tomato-based and sometimes fairly spicy. Relishes, another type of condiment, is a chopped fruit or vegetable that is usually either cooked or pickled and seasoned with herbs or spices. Originating in India, relishes have become popular worldwide in many variations.
When thinking about salsa and relish as a general condiment, the possibilities for variation are endless. Sweet, savory, spicy, smoky, herbal – grab some goodies from the market or your garden and get creative.
Roasted Tomatillo and Corn Salsa
About 12 tomatillos, husks removed, cut into quarters
1/2 large red onion, chopped
3 jalapenos, seeds and ribs removed, chopped
2 ears corn, shucked, and kernels cut from cob
2 tablespoons salad oil
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
On a roasting pan, combine tomatillos, onion, jalapenos, and corn. Drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in a 400 degree oven for about 8 minutes. Stir and let roast for another 7-8 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
Once roasted vegetables are cool, add them and any juices to a bowl. Stir in cumin, paprika, chili powder, lime juice and cilantro.
Great served with grilled fish, such as tuna, swordfish, or salmon.
From Jolene Adams, LLCC Culinary Institute Instructor:
Yield: 4 cups
4 cups watermelon, diced small
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoon finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
1 jalapeno, finely chopped jalapeno pepper (seeds and ribs removed if you want it less spicy)
1/8 teaspoon salt
In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Serve with a slotted spoon. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Flavor will intensify over time.
Note: Wear disposable gloves when cutting hot peppers; the oils can burn skin. Avoid touching your face.
Yield: about 1½ cups
1 cup fresh blueberries, chopped
1/2 cup pomegranate arils
5 medium strawberries, chopped
1 orange, segmented
1/4 red onion, small dice
1 teaspoon lime zest
Juice of two limes
1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves, minced
1/4 cup mint leaves, minced
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
Combine blueberries, pomegranate arils strawberries, onion, lime zest, juice, rice vinegar, mint and cilantro. Fold in orange segments. Taste and season with salt and pepper if desired. Serve with pita or corn chips, or on top of fish or chicken.
From Terri Branham, LLCC Chef Instructor:
Yield: about 7 pints
10 cups cucumbers, diced small
3 cups onions, diced small
4 large red peppers, diced small
4 large green peppers, diced small
4 tablespoons pickling salt
2 cups white vinegar
4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons turmeric
2 teaspoons celery seed
2 teaspoons mustard seed
Mix together in large container the cucumber, onions and peppers. Pour mixture into colander and sprinkle with 4 tablespoons pickling salt and let set for ½ hour. Drain well.
Bring to a boil the rest of the ingredients in a pot large enough for cucumber mixture. After boiling, add cucumbers bring to a boil again. Let boil for 5 minutes.
Place mixture in pint jars and seal.
From Devlin O’Reilly, LLCC culinary student
Devlin moved to Springfield with his family from South Africa several years ago. This recipe for Chakalaka is a traditional South African relish that can be used as a hot or cold dip served with bread or crackers or to top grilled meats, stews or curries. It has many variations based on the region it is made, and often baked beans are added to make a meal of it on its own.
Chakalaka – Spicy Tomato Pepper Relish
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium onions, diced small
4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1 green pepper, deseeded and diced small
1 red pepper, deseeded and diced small
2 medium carrots, diced small
6 tomatoes, diced small
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon mild curry powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
Salt and Pepper to taste
In a medium pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Cook onions for about 4 minutes, until softened. Add garlic and ginger and cook for about 1 minutes. Add peppers and carrots and cook another 5 minutes.
Add tomato paste and let cook about 1 minute. Add tomatoes and remaining ingredients.
Simmer over low heat for 15-20 minutes. Stir occasionally. Taste to adjust seasoning as needed.
Want to know more?
Lincoln Land Community College offers associate degree programs in Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management and academic credit certificates in Culinary Arts and Baking/Pastry. For more information call 786-4613 or visit our web page.