This is my favorite salsa, I remember the first time we made it last winter thinking it was the simplest, tastiest salsa I've ever had. And the best part is that it only requires 5 ingredients, most of which you probably have laying around, and takes no time to make. I'm a such a sucker for that spicy complex chipotle flavor that really makes this salsa what it is.
Adapted from: Malibu Farm Cookbook
Makes about 4 cups (2 pints)
1.5 pounds fresh tomatoes, quartered (any kind works)
1/2 large red onion, diced
1 cup cilantro, chopped
2-4 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (depending on hot spicy you want your salsa, I used 3)
1/4 cup lime juice
1 tablespoon salt
Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse until desired level of chunkiness is achieved. Adjust to taste.
The first and only thing I missed when I became vegetarian almost three years ago was shredded chicken enchiladas. I don't even know if it was so much the chicken, more the texture, and the fact that it was enchiladas.
I grew up eating what my family called "Enchiladas de Crema" a dish my mom made about once a week and we all loved it. They were your traditional enchiladas with shredded chicken, green chilies, and jack cheese. The sauce was thick, creamy, and filled with tomatoes. I later learned when my mom taught be how to make them before I left for college the sauce was achieved through a nice mixing of crushed tomatoes and sour cream, hence the "de crema". My dad's family is hispanic, so there's a chance these enchiladas could have been somewhat authentic (not that we would have cared) but they probably weren't.
It's funny looking back on foods I ate as a child. I remember after I got married I begged my mom to track down the chicken and spinach crepe recipe I LOVED as a kid, only the find out the secret ingredient is a package of dry onion soup flavoring... And without sounding pretentious or ungrateful, some sort of veil was lifted. But alas, I chalk it up to generational food trends, because if you've ever read a cookbook from the generation before my parents it was undoubtedly filled with cups of mayonnaise, spam, and all the other wonders of the invention of processed food.
Needless to say, things have shifted a bit. And I'm happy to be part of the new trend - plant-based food (which makes me wonder how ridiculous our kids will find some of the foods we eat today). The enchiladas I make in my home now look a bit different, but haven't changed too much. We swapped shredded chicken for shredded sweet potato, flavored with spices, lime, some onion, cilantro and jalapeño. And we swapped tomato sauce and sour cream for avocado salsa verde, which might be slightly less creamy and decadent, but definitely just as delicious and much fresher. The pan of 8 still gets demolished in a day or two, if not sooner, and they're still just as homemade tasting at the ones my mom made as a kid.
Adapted from: Alexandra Cooks
1 batch Avocado Salsa Verde*
4 cups grated sweet potato, (~ 3 sweet potatoes)
1 small yellow onion
2 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1 pinch cayenne (or more for extra spiciness)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 jalapeño, diced
1/4 cup cilantro, packed
2 large shallots, diced
2-3 tablespoons lime juice
1 can black beans
4oz can green chilies
4oz goat cheese, (optional)
avocado & cilantro (for serving)
Prepare the salsa verde, measure out 1 1/2 cups (12 oz) and set aside.
Heat a large sauté pan over medium low heat. Meanwhile, dice the onion and garlic. Add the olive oil, onions and garlic to the hot pan and cook until the onions are translucent.
Add the grated sweet potato, coriander, chili powder, cumin, cayenne, and salt to the onion mixture and stir to combine. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring several times to ensure even cooking.
While the sweet potatoes are cooking, roughly chop the cilantro then add it to a small bowl with the jalapeño, shallots, and lime juice then stir to combine. When the potatoes are soft, remove from heat and stir in the cilantro mixture. Set aside to cool.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pour about half of the salsa into the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Prepare the sweet potato, green chilies, black beans and goat cheese (if using) in a conveyer belt line.
One at a time, crisp the tortilla over open flame (or in a frying pan if you have an electric stove) until crispy and slightly charred on each side. Transfer the tortilla to a cutting board then fill with a big spoonful of sweet potato, beans, chilies, and cheese. Roll up tightly then place seam side down in the baking dish. Continue with the remaining 7 tortillas. Once finished pour the remaining salsa on top, cover, and back for 20 minutes covered, uncover, then back for another 10 minutes.
Serve with avocado & chopped cilantro.
Notes: They are excellent with the avocado salsa verde, which just so happens to be the very first recipe I ever posted (I had no idea what I was doing, but was so excited to be doing it!) but to save time you could totally use 12 oz store bought sauce of your choice. If you like spicy, I'm a fan of Trader Joe's Hatch Valley Salsa.
After we found out we're moving to Chicago, Nate and I came up with a california bucket list of things to do before we move. Although we've been less than loving LA for a while now, it's a bit unnerving to think we may never come back to the city we live in again. I may never visit our Trader Joe's or take class at my yoga studio or spend a date night at our favorite Indian restaurant ever again. I know, I'm being a bit dramatic, but once we pick up and leave we're closing this chapter of our lives, a chapter we're happy to close. But there's something about closing a chapter that brushes over the rough parts and washes over everything with nostalgia.
I know this because when I think of the 5 years I spent living in New York, I don't remember the roaches or cursing MTA as I'm late for class and the damn train won't come. I remember the best days of my life in what I still fiercely describe as the greatest city in the world. I remember being surrounded by friends, brilliant teachers, and the pulse of a vibrant city packed with more charm than Los Angeles could ever muster.
It's also a bit unnerving how much where you live changes you. Los Angeles has made me softer, that's for sure. I look back on the person I was when I first moved here over 3 years ago and I barely recognize her. It's both scary and exciting to think about the person I'll become as a Chicagoan. As a mid-westerner (something that still continues to fill my mind with stereotypes that don't feel like me). What will my life be like? What will I be like?
I recently told Nate that after we move I want to spend the first few weeks cooking the meals we already know and love. And how comforting I imagine it will be to eat the same crispy eggplant with mango salsa we've been eating for years. He doesn't relate to any of this because he moved every two years growing up. He has quite literally mastered moving on. He doesn't have friends from childhood or a hometown and because of it he is the most adaptable person I know.
So in effort to savor these last couple months and check some things off our list, we headed up to Ventura last weekend and ate at Beach House Tacos on the pier. We went there the morning we got engaged, so it's sort of special to us. They sell the cheapest best tacos I've ever had, hands down. They definitely have that street taco feel - no fuss, simple, good. So last weekend we ordered a side of grilled pineapple salsa for the first time. Spicy roasted tomato salsa with thick chunks of juicy grilled pineapple. I barely finished chewing my first bite before I said, "WE HAVE TO MAKE THIS".
Cinco de Mayo is here so what better time? I'd never made a salsa like this before, so I figured why not go with the pro, Rick Bayless, whose famous Chicago restaurant XOCO we ate at the night I interviewed. This recipe starts with simple whole ingredients. Instead of using canned fire roasted tomatoes, I roasted them myself. It's really super simple. Dry roast everything on a sizzling hot cast iron skillet until blackened. Peel off the skins and blend into chunky salsa goodness with a surprising bite of juicy sweetness from grilled pineapple. It is taco stand worthy, simple, authentic, and delicious.
Grilled Pineapple Salsa
adapted from Rick Bayless via The Splendid Table
makes about 1 quart
1 pound fresh tomatoes (I used greenhouse tomatoes on the vine)
2 large jalapeños
3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 white onion ~ 3 oz, finely diced
1/3 - 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 small pineapple, or 1/2 large pineapple
Heat both a large cast iron skillet covered in tin foil and a grill pan over high heat. You could also use a regular grill. Remove the rind, and cut the pineapple in long, 1/2 inch thick slices.
Place tomatoes, jalapeños, and unpeeled garlic in the cast iron skillet, place the slices of pineapple in the grill pan and reduce the heat to medium. Cook the pineapple until dark brown grill marks appear on the bottom, then flip, about 12 minutes on each side - though it will depend on the temperature of your grill. Rotate the tomatoes, garlic, and jalapeños every couple of minutes until they are soft, blistered, and blackened almost all over. For me, this took about 25 minutes. It's okay if the tomato skins stick to the foil. Remove from the skillets and let everything cool.
Meanwhile, run cold water over the diced white onion and set aside. Roughly chop the cilantro.
Remove the skins from the tomatoes, jalapeños, and garlic. Discard the jalapeños stem and if you like your salsa mild remove and discard all of the seeds. I left about a dozen seeds and it was pretty spicy - so a little goes a long way.
In the bowl of a food processor pulse the jalapeños, garlic and 1/2 teaspoon of salt until completely ground. You will need a scape the sides a couple times. Add the tomatoes pineapple and pulse until desired chunkiness is achieved. Transfer the salsa to a bowl and stir in the onion and cilantro. Let sit at room temperature for at least 3 hours to let the flavors marinate. The flavors only get better with time.