This was my year to experiment with salsa. One of our favorite Fast Food Friday suppers is nachos with Jamie’s homemade refried beans, tortilla chips with cheese and, of course, salsa, of which we buy too darn much. Hence the salsa experiments.

By some miracle, we did not lose our tomato plants to late blight and when frost threatened, Jamie rushed out and picked every tomato he could find. We ended up with about half-and-half green and ripe ones. So I poked through several of my favorite recipe books for condiments.

Helen Witty’s Fancy Pantry and Good Stuff Cookbook are my two favorites because the recipes are so reliable and they taste very good, too. Not surprisingly, the recipe that caught my eye was her Green and Red Tomato Salsa with Red-Hot Peppers.

In this recipe, the ripe tomatoes are outnumbered two to one by the green, perfect for Maine where even in stellar garden years, which 2009 most certainly was not, we are very apt to have green tomatoes around at frost time.

We grew hot peppers again this year, but they weren’t red. I don’t let a little thing like that bother me because peppers in salsa are about flavor and you can tinker with that to suit your taste.

Helen intended for this recipe to be canned, and I did put up a couple pints, but my happy discovery was that this is really good as a fresh, uncooked salsa. We ate ourselves silly on the cupful I left out, scooping it up on tortilla chips.

I altered one other thing; I used lime juice instead of vinegar because I like the flavor of lime in salsa. In the recipe that follows, I also rounded the amounts where I could to the nearest whole vegetable.

Green and Red Tomato Salsa

Yields about three cups.

2 cups coarsely chopped green tomatoes, about 4-5 medium

1 cup coarsely chopped red tomatoes, 1 large or 2 medium

1 medium onion, diced

¼ cup lime juice (or white vinegar)

¼ of a large red bell pepper

2-3 cloves of garlic

1 (or more to taste) seeded, de-ribbed, and finely minced hot pepper

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cumin

Additional red pepper flakes or hot sauce to taste

Chopped fresh cilantro, to taste

For fresh salsa, combine all the above ingredients and allow to stand for a couple of hours for the flavors to blend.

To make a cooked version to can or to put away in the fridge for use later: Mix together everything except the cumin and cilantro and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about half an hour, or until only a little liquid runs from a spoonful set on a saucer. When the mixture is thick enough, add the cumin, taste and adjust seasonings remembering that the heat from the hot peppers will continue to develop. Can in clean jars, and seal according to your usual method for relish. Or put into jars and store in the refrigerator where it will keep for weeks. Add cilantro when you are ready to serve it.

Send queries or answers to Sandy Oliver, 1061 Main Road, Islesboro 04848. E-mail: For recipes, tell us where they came from. List ingredients, specify number of servings and do not abbreviate measurements. Include name, address and daytime phone number.

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Sandy Oliver, Taste Buds

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working...