Monday, June 6, 2011

The beauty of homemade: Mango Salsa Fresca

I think the majority of us make “almost homemade” foods. Not that this is a bad thing, of course, but it’s true. Canned tomatoes and beans, peanut butter, fruit preserves and jams, gluten free flour(s), sweetener(s), salsa, sauces, and canned coconut milk are godsends to my household. Rarely do I consider the work it takes to making things from scratch when I am privileged to live in an era where the hard part has already been done for me.

After this weekend, however, my perception of the term “homemade” has been taken to a completely different level. I have a new-found respect to those households where cooking from scratch is a common endeavor, but now know the secret behind their successes.

The secret, my friends, is the having the tools to make homemade possible. On Saturday I was given two such gizmos, an ice pop molds set and a tortilla press, both of which were immediately used. It was the first time that Morri-friendly fajita bowls were made with true-blue tortillas, and the first time in a long time I had a frozen treat that indulged my chocolate craving (but one I could feel good about eating).

Mark my words, lovelies; the tortilla press is going to be used regularly. It took Mama Dazz and me three hours to perfect the corn tortilla (using masa harina), but it was a rewarding experience. Already I’m incorporating it for future recipes such as various flatbreads and pasta doughs in my mind.

As for the frozen pop molds, it’s just a matter of experimenting with different ingredients. For my first attempt I made a dessert pop that was rich, chocolatey, and vegan, with fruit as the dessert’s only sweetener. I like the idea of using coconut milk, avocado, and dates to make it a creamy treat, but I do want to test out different flavors and combinations before posting a recipe, specifically one that has never been seen before.

The following recipe didn’t need either gadget. Salsa fresca (or pico de gallo) is something I make a habit in keeping in the fridge, but it never occurred to me to shake things up a bit and make it myself. Trader Joe’s has two kinds, mild and hot, but I wanted an additional oomph to my taste buds. I wanted something that would really knock my socks off in flavor minus the numbing sensation of a spicy pepper.

Mango Salsa Fresca

20 Frozen mango chunks, quartered
4 Smallish tomatoes (such as Roma), finely diced
1/2 Sweet onion, finely diced
1/2 Green bell pepper, finely diced
1 Jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
2 Garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
Juice of a Lime
3 tbsp. Pomegranate infused red wine vinegar (or 1 tbsp. pomegranate juice and 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar)

Put all of the ingredients in the food processor and pulse until the ingredients are evenly chopped but not completely blended.
Can be served immediately or kept in the fridge up to a week.

For a chunkier version, put all of the ingredients (cut a little finer) in a large mixing bowl and stir until thoroughly combined.
Let it sit in the fridge for up to an hour before serving.

Note: this is a rather “juicy” salsa, so I recommend straining individual servings but keeping the juice for ultimate flavor.

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