I doubt it's any sort of secret that' I'm fiercely proud of our backyard garden. You only have to take a quick gander at my FlickR garden photostream to see that we've got something on a pretty impressive scale going (and growing!) on, and if you know me personally chances are you've been the recipient of one form or another of that year's harvest. While my "side" of the garden is usually more tuned towards the unique and heirloom veggies and herbs (like my yearly planting of chioggia beets, heirloom carrots and tomatoes, the perennial Egyptian onion, horseradish and figs, and this year's Meyer lemons, borage, pineapple sage and Jerusalem artichokes), we've got the vineyard, "regular" veggies like pole and flat beans, plum tomatoes, rhubarb, zucchini and peppers and the rest of my herb garden too!
So it's really no surprise that come September when everyone is back at school, work and generally out of that "vay-cay" mindset that we wind up with way more produce than we can handle as a family of five (especially when only two of us are true veggie lovers!). Remember last year's pickle-making explosion? We still have sealed jars of dilly, garlicky cukes and sweet-sour radishes in our cold cellar (nestled in with the wine!). I only just finished off the last of the tomato passata, and some of the carrots are lying in the freezer waiting on my mom to make one of her favourite recipes from one of my upcoming recipe booklets (a ragù she lovingly calls "Chicken Thigh Thingy"). This year, I was kind of at a loss as to what to do with all the pineapple sage and lemon balm I had on the go (the borage too, but we wound up pulling a few plants and composting them instead), along with the monster rhubarb and the glut of peppers and tomatoes from our - shall we say - overzealous plants.
Rather than compost the overage or let it start to turn interesting shades of blue and purple, I figured what better use for tomatoes, peppers and herbs than a fresh, zesty salsa? I adore the mixture of sweet, savoury, sour and freshness that comes from a well made and well balanced batch of this condiment, and the flavour of an uncooked pico de gallo with in-season ingredients is unmatched. I had been playing with the idea of crafting some sort of savoury use for my rhubarb earlier in the season, but never made it past the mental "block" of compotes or chutney in my brain, although I had seen stews, soups, stuffings and salads around the web. Then I came across a wealth of rhubarb recipes that Amy of Shiny Cooking had listed for a 24-24-24 submission to FoodBuzz, including one for salsa!!
I knew it was meant to be, but I wanted a bit... more. I love the tang of pineapple in my salsa as well, especially in Summertime, and we did have all those heirloom Sasha's Altai tomatoes needing a home. The original recipe from The Joy of Rhubarb: The Versatile Summer Delight had neither ingredient, and also used gratuitous cilantro, a herb I (and apparently many others) detest. I just substituted a mix of my delicious pineapple sage and lemon balm willy-nilly for that problem, and added the sweet-sour pineapple and sweet Summer tomatoes to the mixture (I left out the sugar to compensate). Diced greens from the Egyptian onion stood in for the green onions and one and a half hot cherry peppers filled the jalapeño gap. A final lashing of lime zest and a pinch of cumin rounded out the blend, and soon my mixing bowl looked like the Christmas marketing fairy had visited!
I had to pass on the goodness to others, both for the superb flavour this salsa had and because it made a ton, that I alone couldn't mow through! Thankfully, Norm (a fellow Toronto tweeter), my flavour-loving grandfather and my RMT with an awesomely adventurous palate all agreed to take a portion, and I can't wait to see what they use it on! I wrapped mine in grilled-tofu-filled tortillas, but it would also work on grilled meats or seafood, stirred into rice or piled onto tortilla or pita chips!
Pineapple - Rhubarb Salsa
Makes about 4 1/4 cups (or 17 servings of 1/4 cup each)
8.5 oz (2 cups) finely diced fresh rhubarb
1 cup diced pineapple (I used canned tidbits)
1 large or 2 small heirloom tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 sweet red pepper (preferably a Shepherd), chopped
½ cup minced pineapple sage
¼ cup minced lemon balm ¼ cup minced green onions
1 jalapeño (or other hot) pepper, minced
zest of 1 lime
juice of 2 limes
salt and ground black pepper to taste
Bring a pot of water to a boil and add rhubarb.
Cook 10 seconds, then drain and rinse under cold water.
Add all the ingredients into a large bowl and mix well.
Refrigerate 2-3 hours to allow the flavors to develop.
Stored in a tightly covered jar in the refrigerator, this will keep for 2 weeks.
Amount Per Serving
Total Fat: 0.1 g Cholesterol: 0.0 mg Sodium: 2.2 mg Total Carbs: 3.4 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.8 g
Protein: 0.4 g
Are you growing anything this year? Share it - and your favourite uses for it - with me in the comments!