Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Ed's Salsa

Many years ago, when I worked many varied summer jobs, I met a janitor named Ed. Well, janitor was his official job, but really that title doesn't describe him fully. He spoke with a stutter, but as eloquently wise and down-to-earth as you can imagine. He was the first to offer a helping hand to anyone in need, and he had a keen sense for anticipating what that need would be. Ed befriended me and a few of the other teachers working in a summer school for kids with Autism. Oftentimes, we adults gathered around the craft table, squeezing ourselves into child-sized chairs, and sharing lunch together between the morning and afternoon sessions.

After all these years, I haven't forgotten the first time Ed brought in his homemade and homegrown salsa to share. Divine! It's still the best salsa I've ever tasted. Perhaps this is not only because of its flavor, but also because of the love it was made with, and the kindhearted soul with whom we shared it. And really, isn't that what good food so often is? So much more than a recipe or technique, but a genuine connection with someone across status, culture, and even across time—that is what makes it so very special.

I have long since lost touch with Ed, and come to think of it, I’m not sure I even knew his last name. But his spirit is with me every summer in my kitchen when I whip up a batch of his salsa.

Ed’s Salsa
~Makes a few big mason jars worth--plenty to share! 

Approximately 10 "garden-sized" (small to medium) red tomatoes of any variety
2 medium green bell peppers
2 small or 1 large white or yellow onion
1-2 small jalapenos
5 garlic cloves
1 small palmful fresh cilantro
1 small palmful fresh parsley
1 small palmful fresh oregano
20 ounce jar of tomato sauce (home canned, or a couple 14 ounce cans from the store will do)

1. Chop all the fresh ingredients as roughly or finely as you like your salsa to be. A food processor works well if you don't want to chop by hand. I like the jalapenos, garlic, and herbs chopped very fine, and the rest a bit chunky.

note: protect your hands with gloves or a towel while cutting the jalapenos--they can burn! I also start with just 1/2 of one jalapeno and slowly add more at the end if the salsa isn't spicy enough after I taste it
2. Add tomato sauce and mix well
3. Enjoy with some still-warm homemade tortilla chips


  1. That is a super sweet story. Food is so much better when it has the rich social connection as well as rich flavor. Matt and I have never made salsa and are considering giving it a go this year. Our local salsa guy is so good though I am tempted to keep all my own bounty for sauce! Ed's recipe is tempting me though...

  2. I know what you mean...we never seem to have grown enough tomatoes for everything we want to put up here either. We must remedy that next year!

  3. I know! Tomatoes are something that I feel there can never be enough of!! Salsa, sauce, stewed, fresh, juice, many equally tasty and incredible options! Every year we plant more and more and every year we still end up saying "Hmmm....I guess we'll have to plant even more next year!" Ah, one of these years maybe we'll get it right!

    I did manage to trade my brother-in-law a jar of cherry jelly for a jar of his salsa so I at least got some fresh from the garden salsa goodness this year no matter what!


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