September 8, 2008

Peach Tomatillo Salsa

A glut of peaches. Who would have thought?

After 7 years living in the UK I had started to think of peaches as a rarity- an extravagant purchase that should be celebrated and used with the utmost care in only the summer months. So it's not surprising that, although I am now inundated with peaches, I can't seem to get enough of them. They've been going into pies, tarts, jams, chutneys, jars, and of course the freezer.

In an attempt to make something less traditional, which would also preserve the genuine subtle sweetness and floral scent of the fresh peach, I decided that a salsa could be just the thing. It may not last throughout the year, like a traditional preserve, but the addition of lime juice and spicy jalapeño pepper mean a slightly extended life for the much adored end-of-summer fruit.

To add some more subtle flavours that would not overpower the peach, and to make the most of another seasonal glut- the renowned zucchini (courgette)- some zucchini, and more traditional salsa ingredients were added, like coriander, lime juice, and finely diced white onions. A little tartness and bite was introduced by adding some bright green tomatillos that I found at the market, complete with their husks still on. Finding such unusual gems at the market was a first for me, and I couldn't believe my luck. Tomatillos are a relative of the gooseberry and as you probably are aware, if you bite into a raw tomatillo, you will find out why. To overcome the tartness it's best to first roast the tomatillos on a tray in a hot oven until the skins are slightly darkened and collapsed.

For the salsa:

Take 1 lb of fresh tomatillos and remove their husks. Coat them in some oil and roast in a 200C oven for roughly 20 mins until the skins start to collapse and slightly char. Note: if you can't find fresh tomatillos, then canned ones are just as good and they're pre-roasted for added convenience. Leave the tray to cool while preparing the other ingredients.

Sterilise 3 medium, already washed jars (roughly the size of salsa or jam jars) in the microwave for 2 mins, or you can lay the jars on their side on a cookie sheet and sterilise them in the oven at 170C for 20 minutes, and boil the lids for a few minutes in a pan- remove these from the water with clean tongs or a strainer being careful not to touch any part of the lid with your hands. Leave lids to air dry.

Finely dice the below ingredients, or if using a food processor, then process each ingredient separately - they will all be combined at the very end following the dicing of the peaches:

1 medium zucchini (about 5 to 6 inches long)
3 medium white onions
A handful of coriander (cilantro) leaves
Blend together:
1/4 jalapeño finely diced (this salsa is very lightly spiced- do use more jalapeño if you like more heat!)
The juice of 3 limes

Roughly chop the cooled tomatillos, or pulse the tomatillos in the food processor- they only need 2 to 3 pulses.

The peaches (do this last to reduce browning):
Take 3 large peaches
Blanch the peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds then lift out with a strainer and put into cold water. Tip: It’s easiest if you cut the peaches in half first, then peel and remove the pits. Cut each peach into halves and peel, then dice finely, or cut into quarters and process with a few pulses.

Mix all ingredients together and fill into the sterilised jars. If you have a funnel then it will be extremely useful at this stage. Otherwise, don’t worry about making a mess. Fill the jars right to the top with the salsa and tighten the caps. The jars should last up to 3 weeks in the fridge.

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