Warning! Jalapeños can be very hot, so you may want to adjust this recipe to suit your taste by using fewer jalapeños (or milder chiles). After you’ve made the salsa, if you find that it’s still too hot, just add more tomato sauce or tomatoes.
• 8 medium jalapeño chiles, roasted or boiled and chopped
• 1/4 onion, cut into fine pieces
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 or 3 sprigs of cilantro, finely chopped
• 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce (or 4 fresh organically grown tomatoes, chopped)
• Pinch of salt (optional)
1. Use a molcajete—a Mexican mortar and pestle—and grind the jalapeños to a fine consistency, adding the onion, garlic, and cilantro as I go. When these ingredients are ready, I put them in a bowl, add the tomato sauce or tomatoes and maybe a pinch of salt, and stir. (My mother’s method included roasting the chiles and the whole tomatoes on the comal, an iron griddle for cooking tortillas, before grinding them in the molcajete.)
The molcajete has been used for thousands of years by native peoples, and I think it gives the salsa a better taste, but a blender works, too. If you wish to make a blended salsa, put the ingredients in the pitcher and cover, then push the button briefly a few times for a chunky salsa and a few more times for a smoother salsa. I like a chunkier salsa to use as a dip for chips.
Ed Mendoza is a consultant for the Native American Farmers Association and farm manager for the O’odham Oidak farm project, where he teaches young people about traditional and sustainable farming.
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