Salsa season: Homemade salsas take advantage of late summer produce

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I eat a lot of salsa. Salsa with chips, salsa with quesadillas and tacos, salsa with eggs, salsa to dip grilled cheese sandwiches in.

Until recently, I fed my salsa habit with store-bought varieties. But faced with a small mountain of fresh tomatoes, sweet corn and hot peppers crowding my fridge I decided it was time to dive into making salsa from scratch.

The vegetables come from the farm share box I get weekly from Bass Farms in Mount Vernon. Also known as a CSA — community supported agriculture — the farm share program means I am inundated with seasonal produce. Combine that with two heirloom tomato plants growing out of control in my garden and an enthusiastic pot of chives on my porch, and I needed to start dicing and pureeing my own homemade salsa.

I recruited fellow Gazette reporter and CSA participant Chelsea Keenan to help. She came up with a frankly delicious roasted salsa recipe. Roasting the sweet corn, tomatoes and peppers in the oven for a few minutes gives this salsa a mildly smokey flavor while making the veggies a breeze to puree.

The corn and bean salsa I made is a variation of one my family makes for parties and potlucks throughout the year. Typically we’ve made it with canned diced tomatoes and corn, but late summer seemed like the perfect chance to use fresh garden tomatoes and Iowa sweet corn. I added a jalapeno to give it a bit of kick; adjust the amount of pepper in this mild salsa to your preference.

Both recipes make about a quart of salsa, which is admittedly a lot. Since these are fresh and preservative-free, they won’t last as long in the fridge as the store-bought kind, but the good news is salsa can easily be frozen. I like to put two cup servings into double bagged Ziplocs, laid flat so I can stack them easily.

These two recipes have almost the same ingredients, but very different flavors, just an example of the wonderful variety of dishes that can be coaxed from a backyard garden or farmers market haul.

Both salsas were easy and fast to make. I may never buy salsa again.

Roasted corn and tomato salsa


Four to five tomatoes
Two small jalapenos, or one large
Two ears of corn
Four to six green onions
Three cloves garlic
One bunch cilantro
Salt to taste
One lime
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place corn directly in oven, still in husk, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Line baking sheet with tin foil. Quarter tomatoes, halve jalapenos and place on sheet to bake for 15 minutes. When done, place broiler on high and broil for a few minutes until tomato skins start to slink off. While corn, tomatoes and peppers are roasting, chop onion, peel garlic and chop cilantro. Once tomatoes and peppers are done, let cool. Then de-seed jalapenos and remove skins from tomatoes. Place tomatoes, jalapenos, garlic, onion and salt in food processor. Pulse until chopped and combined. Pour in bowl, add cilantro, corn (removed from cob) and squeeze of lime juice. Makes about 1 quart.

Corn and bean salsa

Four or five tomatoes
About 1/4 cup chopped chives and cilantro
5 green onions
1 jalapeno
Two ears corn
1 can black beans
1/2 cup Italian dressing
Salt to taste

Cook corn. While it is cooking, dice tomatoes very fine, chop chives, cilantro, green onions and jalapeno. Drain and rinse black beans. After corn cools, slice from cob. Combine all vegetables, herbs, beans and Italian dressing in large bowl and salt to taste. Makes about 1 quart.

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