This post is part of the Food Matters Project, a cooking collaboration among participating bloggers. Each week, we will cook a recipe from Mark Bittman’s Food Matters Cookbook, which places an emphasis on mindful and sustainable eating. Follow along with us!
Ain’t nothin’ more fresca than salsa fresca. Probably not even Fresca the beverage. And Fresca is pretty fresca; I should know because I use Fresca (or Vanilla Coke Zero) as a mixer for various types of booze and am routinely the coolest kid at the party.
Fresca means “fresh,” for any non-Spanish class takers out there, and when paired with “salsa” it means a salsa that is not cooked, but simply a mingling of fresh vegetables that get along well. This week’s Food Matters recipe was Five Salsas for Chips, Dips and Other Stuff, chosen by small kitchen kindred spirit Alissa of Big Eats tiny kitchen. Bittman offers a traditional (and fresca) salsa and four variations, and I chose the old standby.
The verdict? This salsa is classic. And I don’t mean classic like “kind of boring and lacking in flavor, so I’ll just say classic.” This simple recipe, mild enough for most tastes, deserves to be a classic, used over and over especially as summer gardens overflow with ripe tomatoes. While I value and often practice the skill of adjusting recipes according to taste or preference, I found Bittman’s ingredients and proportions created the exact salsa of my dreams. Tomato, jalapeno, cilantro, lime juice and exactly half an onion. He has perfected the simple art.
I wanted to fully appreciate this perfected art by making a full meal of chips and kick-ass salsa. My personal strategy to Mexican meal-making? Add black beans. Check. I didn’t season them, but you could add cumin or chili powder for something extra. After that, chop some romaine for a makeshift vegetarian taco salad, no dressing needed since the salsa develops its own juices. And of course, the reason we came, chips. Homemade baked tortilla chips cut out some needless fat as does a finishing dollop of fat free Greek yogurt instead of full-fat sour cream.
I work under abhorrent conditions with neither microwave nor refrigerator and am pretty excited to tupperware this salad up for a healthy lunch that will remain (relatively) fresca all the live-long 10-hour work day. Or half the live-long day, anyway. Full disclosure, I did this today and it leaked its sweet juices everywhere in my bag. Check your tupperware twice, kids! But let me tell you, it smelled amazing and still tasted great.
To give Bittman’s classic salsa or one of his variations a go, see page 46 of the Food Matters Cookbook, and check back at Big Eats tiny kitchen to see what Alissa came up with. See even more salsa creations at The Food Matters Project.
Jen Cantin is a new Philly resident with an English and journalism degree from Clark University in Worcester, Mass. She shares other (a)musings at Deep Fried Epiphany and dedicates this post to the satisfying venture of bringing your own food wherever you go. Food: Don’t leave home without it!