Snacking has become somewhat of a past-time in our house of late. Busy weeks of school and work give way to lazy, slow-paced evenings of relaxation, television and the occasional dinner out. When faced with these fleeting moments of free time to relax and do more of what we WANT to do than HAVE to do, snacking on less-then-healthy indulgence foods often tops the list. In light of this increasingly frequent activity, I have decided to create easy access snacks with a little more health and nutrition value than cheese puffs and processed desserts. My first healthy snack idea was a no-brainer for two people who love spicy finger food. Salsa is one of those things that may not always be considered a health food, but upon closer inspection, is chalk full of essential nutrients, countless vitamins and minerals and tons of antioxidants.... ok, I may be exaggerating a little here without having ever done any research but come on people, let's look at the evidence. We're talking vine-ripened tomatoes picked and canned at their peak, full of tomato goodness... you can't beat the flavor! Fresh cilantro full of green freshness, zesty garlic we all know is good for the heart, and how can I not mention the fiery peppers that not only give your metabolism a kick start, but help you feel full faster! At the beginning of the week during your weekly grocery fix, pick up the ingredients I list below and you will never be more than two minutes away from an extremely quick, delicious and healthy snack!
What you'll need:
1 28oz can whole, peeled plum tomatoes
3 hot peppers (jalapeno, red, etc.)
1 medium onion
1 large clove of garlic
1 bunch fresh cilantro
juice of half a lime
1 teaspoon cumin
salt to taste
*and of course, corn tortillas for scooping! While your mind is thinking about healthy salsa ingredients, look for tortilla chips that are organic or free of processed ingredients to keep your snack healthy and preservative free!
Before I get into the mechanics of this salsa, let me first say that you can make this whole dish by hand, with a knife and a mere cutting board. If you have a mezza-luna, that would be equally effective, so, no matter what chopping implement you have in your kitchen, this recipe is for you.
Having said that, I opted for my food processor... hee hee hee... which is conveniently sitting on the counter, plugged in, ready to go... why fight the evolution of technology? Although the food processor is a powerhouse of sorts, rough chop the veggies before throwing them into the processor bowl. This just ensures even chopping and blending. The tomatoes do not require a run through with a knife though as they are quite soft, but the peppers, onion, garlic and even the cilantro might benefit from a quick chop-chop. On a side note, the heat of your salsa comes from, you guessed it, the peppers. But it is the seeds and white veins of the pepper that deliver the most punch, so if you like your salsa a little more tame, remove the seeds and veins before adding them to the bowl. I happen to like the heat, so I throw the whole pepper in, seeds and all! Something else to know is that your salsa will get hotter and more fiery as it sits in the fridge, so it may seem tame and lame on day one, but by day two, you'll have a fiery mexican fiesta in your mouth! Onward... I've been rambling... Once everything is in the bowl of the food processor, press the pulse button until the salsa is the right consistency to your liking. I happen to pulse this stuff until I'm left with what I can only describe as tomato pulp, quite a bit more smooth than the salsa you purchase in the store, and all the bits are roughly the same size which makes for easy dipping and scooping. The benefits to making your own salsa at home are innumerable: you get to decide what texture it will have, how much lime juice to add, how little cilantro to throw in, how hot you want it to be... Not only is this salsa fast, it is fresh, healthy and free of all the preservative nonsense we are bombarded with in the supermarket. With a little careful planning, you can have a fresh south-of-the-border snack sitting in your fridge, ready to go! If it doesn't disappear in one day, it seems to keep just fine for up to a week in the fridge in a sealed container.
Now that's putting the heat back into the kitchen!