As some of you will know, I started building a garden of raised vegetable beds at the beginning of the year when few of us had even heard of COVID-19. Since then the world has changed in ways that we could never have imagined and so too has the scrappy piece of land behind my house. No longer able to travel, I’ve found myself with the time to scrape grass, dig soil, mix cement, plant seeds and vegetables and tend to their needs over the summer months. My vegetable garden has very much been a ‘lockdown project’ but one which will give me pleasure – and food – long after the pandemic (hopefully) passes.
Now, as summer turns to autumn in Italy, I’m starting to harvest so be prepared for a glut of recipes and pickling, chutneying and jamming stories! First up, my spicy Mexican salsa made with fresh tomatoes, chilli and coriander to accompany my chilli sensa carne.
3 or 4 ripe tomatoes
A handful of red and green chillis - how many depends on how strong your chillis are and how hot you want your salsa!
A large spring onion - you could also use a red onion or some shallots
A large handful of fresh coriander
2 cloves of garlic
Juice of a lime
A glug of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
First, chop your tomatoes, chillis and onion finely. I was given a set of beautiful knives for my birthday so this was easy for once! Some recipes suggest throwing everything into a food processor but I prefer my salsa with a bit of texture and crunch.
Add the chopped vegetables to a bowl with the chopped coriander, crushed garlic, juice of a lime and a glug of olive oil. Season well with salt and pepper.
This is the part where you really need to adjust the flavours to your taste. For me the Italian chillis I’d grown, as beautiful as they are, simply weren’t hot enough so I added a good pinch of chilli flakes and a little hot chilli powder. Then I needed a squeeze more lime to rebalance the dish. Don’t be afraid to play with the flavours, the trick is to add a little at a time so you have options to readjust as necessary. And that’s it. Simple, fresh and delicious. Summer in a bowl!