The Lexingtonienne



When life hands you tomatoes, make salsa.


And while you’re at it, why not make it the hottest %@!#ing salsa that has ever touched your tongue?



Several taste buds ago, I did exactly that. Seriously, you are so lucky you have me doing this ridiculous stuff so that you don’t have to. Please learn from my mistakes. In this case, my mistakes were trusting a recipe and not tasting my peppers.



Here is what I’m going to do for you. As I guzzle half a gallon of milk and wipe beads of sweat from my forehead, I am going to adjust this recipe so that neither you nor I ever has to suffer from jalapeno-induced heat stroke (again).



First of all, you should know that I like — no, love — spicy food. I am usually the one scoffing at foods labeled “spicy” or even “extra spicy,” which I often find to be as mild as the Baby Jesus. I dump Cholula sauce onto my tacos by the tablespoonful. I love a good eye-watering, noseunning dish. So before you go sniffing, “Well I can handle my spice,” you just keep that in mind.



That said, here are the lessons we learned today.



One: always taste your peppers. The spiciness varies from jalapeno to jalapeno. Some really aren’t that spicy. Others absolutely light you UP. So before you just throw everything into the bowl like I did, touch your tongue to a little sliver and see what scale of firecrackers you get. Adjust accordingly. If they seem pretty spicy, use less. If they send you straight over to the sink wagging your tongue under the faucet, for goodness sakes, core and seed those suckers (since the seeds are HOT). And use less.



Lesson number two: This, friends, is exactly why we keep canned tomatoes in our pantries. Yes, yes, it’s supposed to be all about the fresh tomatoes that you roast to perfection yourself. Aren’t you so special. But canned tomatoes were the life preserver thrust mercifully into the fiery waters that were this salsa. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, someone pass the sour cream so I can stick my tongue in it. Anyway, next time you’re at the store, stock up on canned tomatoes because you just never know.



Look, I don’t want to scare you. I’m not telling you NOT to make this salsa. In fact, I definitely think you should. My stepmother, Lori, makes this, and hers is fabulous.



And two giant cans of tomatoes later, my salsa was also very, very good. I’m just letting you know what to look out for so that your salsa turns out like Lori’s from the start. In the event that it is, ahem, a little hot, just remember, the number for 911 is… oh shoot, what is that number again… ?


1 1/2 pounds fresh tomatoes (Plum is recommended. I used an unknown kind from Cousin Blista’s garden.)
1-3 jalapenos
1/2 small onion, sliced 1/4 inch thick
4-5 garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 C loosely packed cilantro, chopped
1 1/2 t cider vinegar
1 t salt
1 t sugar
1-2 large cans peeled diced tomatoes, just in case

Heat broiler in oven. Arrange tomatoes and jalapenos in a single layer on a large, rimmed baking sheet lined with foil. Place about 4-5 inches under broiler and broil until skins begin to blacken and blister. Mine took 10-12 minutes. Using tongs, rotate tomatoes and jalapenos so that the opposite side faces up, and broil until the other sides blacken and blister, about 6-7 more minutes. Remove from oven and set aside. When they are cool, skin the tomatoes (the skins will come off very easily) over your baking sheet so you don’t lose any of the juices.

Turn broiler off and heat oven to 425. On a separate baking sheet lined with foil, arrange onion slices and garlic cloves. Bake until onion edges turn brown and dark spots form on the garlic cloves, about 15-20 minutes, stirring every few minutes.

Cut stems off jalapenos, peel skins off, and TASTE. It is probably going to be a good idea to core and seed them — or at least one of them — but I will let you be the judge. In a food processor, pulse the jalapenos with the onions and garlic. Scrape into a bowl and set aside. Without cleaning out the food processor, add your tomatoes and pulse to your desired salsa consistency.

Add the pulsed tomatoes to the jalapeno mixture. Stir in cilantro, vinegar, salt, and sugar until everything is thoroughly mixed. Taste. If the salsa is too hot, add canned tomatoes until you can stand it.

Ay caramba,


  • Comment by laser vision — September 12, 2010 @ 10:19 pm

    would love some

  • Comment by Lori Martin — September 14, 2010 @ 9:08 am

    Wow Hannah,

    I am honored. You are so right (well about lots of things), but about the canned tomatoes and the taste of the jalepenos. Enjoy!

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