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How to make eggplant salsa from scratch

Ah, summer.  The time when posts to this blog are farther and fewer between, because it’s just so damned easy to eat well in summer.  After all, these posts are dedicated to things that are difficult.

Well, there is one thing that starts to get difficult about mid-July: using all the eggplant coming out of your garden, farmers’ market or grocery store.  These prolific plants pump out the fruits until the first frost, and there’s only so much eggplant parm one can eat.  So what to do with the summer bounty?

In my house, the answer is eggplant salsa.

My eggplant salsa: like traditional salsa, but better.

Now, eggplant salsa is nothing new.  But when I perused recipes for inspiration to punch mine up, I realized something – the way I make mine is a lot easier than most recipes, which often call for roasting the eggplants first (and sometimes even peeling them, for God’s sake).  The resultant “salsa”, while lovely in its own right, doesn’t resemble anything my kids like to eat.  And worst of all, they don’t look like they store for the long haul.  Well Dear Reader, that’s not the way I roll.  My stuff has got to be simple, delicious, kid-friendly, and store-able all year.  These characteristics set mine apart from the usual fare found on the internet.

Unfortunately, it didn’t occur to me to photograph the process, so you’ll have to follow written instructions and rely on the photo above for inspiration.  Here’s the basic recipe, but it’s very forgiving in terms of both ingredients and ratios.

4 cups shredded eggplants
4 cups chopped tomato
1 large onion of choice
4 garlic cloves
1 can tomato paste
1/2 cup vinegar of choice (cider works well)
Juice of 2 limes (or lemons)
2 TBSP salt (I prefer smoked, or sea salt)
1 TBSP ground cumin
1 TBSP dried cilantro (or a big bunch fresh)
1 TBSP ground black pepper
2 TBSP toasted, crushed coriander seed
Other optional ingredients: cut corn, black beans, shredded squash, spicy peppers minced, etc etc etc

Heat some olive oil.  Saute the onions and garlic in a large saucepan for a minute or two.  Add the shredded eggplant, saute for about 10 minutes.  Add the remainder of ingredients.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, stirring frequently.  Simmer for about an hour.

When complete, you can refrigerate, freeze or can.  I canned mine tonight (simple water bath canner, 30 minutes), so two hours’ work will last the better part of a year.

Three pints, six half-pints (aka 6 pints all together)

A quick cost analysis:

About $5 worth of seasonal veg from the farmers’ market.  About $1 worth of everything else.  Yield was about 6 pints, so that’s $1 per pint.  Try that at the grocery store.

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