Bologna to Bolognese: Adventures With Food

Food is necessary. Food is fun. Food is an adventure!

My name is Shannon and this is my adventure, my love affair with food.

I hope you'll come along for the ride.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Not your everyday Chips and Salsa

A few years ago I lucked out on a bunch of bargain priced books from Barnes & Nobel including one dedicated to salsa. To this day I would have to say that salsa book has been one of my best purchases. "Nueva Salsa recipes to spice it up" by Rafael Palomino and Arlen Gargagliano is a collection of salsa recipes, some traditional and some unusual but all of them wonderful! I would like to tell you that today's recipe comes from that book, and I really thought it did...but it doesn't. It is however inspired by the book as I found by the notes I had tucked between the pages. Until reading it I never would have considered a fruit salsa but the simple combination of flavors is delightful.

I combined a Tomatillo salsa with a fruit salsa and came up with today's:

Sweet and Spicy Pineapple Salsa
(Makes about 1 quart)

1/4 diced fresh Pineapple
2 medium Tomatillos
1/2 Red Bell Pepper finely diced
1 handful of chopped Cilantro
1/2 ripe Mango diced
2 finely diced Jalapenos with seeds
1/4 diced Red Onion
1 Lime or two large Key Limes
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

I like to start with the more firm elements, Onion & Peppers, and put the juicier bits over them as you go. So finely dice your Onion, Red and Jalapeno peppers, and dice your Tomatillos. Just go ahead and add them all to your serving dish or container. Next zest your lime on top of the veggie components, but make sure not to get the pith. Move on to your fruit. I'd pick the pineapple next because it's acidity will start breaking down the veggies as the juice seeps out. When you're chopping think "Pineapple Tidbits" for size but do be sure to use a fresh pineapple for the best flavor. Next the Mango and all it's juicy goodness and finally the Cilantro. Make sure you give the Cilantro a good rinse in cold water to get rid of any grit. Once it's all in season with salt and pepper, drizzle some olive oil, and juice your lime over top.

What would Salsa be without the chips, but with a taste explosion like this you need a special chip. Plantains are an enigmatic food. I remember my Aunt Judy teaching me to fry them and I loved the mild sweetness of the soft fried fruit. Since then I have made them dozens of times but was truly inspired one day when I saw them made into chips. What more perfect vessel for this zingy fruity salsa than the earthy flavor of a Plantain.

Plantain Chips

2 large firm Plantains
Course sea Salt (about 1 Tbsp)
1 Lime

Start with the salt. I pour some salt out in my mortar and add zest from the lime. Then take the pestle and grind them together pretty well until the salt is broken down to table salt size. Add some juice, you don't want enough to break down the salt just enough to make it wet. then scrape the salt mixture out with a spatula and spread it on a piece of aluminum foil. Spread it out thinly set the oven at it's lowest heat and place the salt on the middle rack to dry, ( you can do this ahead of time and let it air dry and if you don't have a mortar and pestle a well rounded bowl and the back of a spoon will do.) If you start this before you make the salsa it will be ready by the time you get the plantain chips done.
Slice the plantains very thin, a mandolin is a great help but not necessary. Heat some vegetable oil in a pan on the stove until a small piece of plantain sizzles when dropped in. Fry 6-8 (or however many fit single spaced in your pan) at a time about 2 minutes per side or until they sound hard. Remove chips from the oil with a slotted spoon and lay on a plate lined with paper toweling. Sprinkle with lime salt while still hot. Continue until all the chips are fried.

While I didn't use an exact recipe from it for this salsa I was very influenced by the goodness I found in "Nueva Salsa" and I highly recommend it. It is worth looking up. Happy munching!

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