Mid Week Inspiration No. 11

June 11, 2018
Mid Week Inspiration No. 11 - What is the first dish you made over and over until you had it mastered? And summer salsas for all of your dipping needs

Mid Week Inspiration No. 11 – What's the First Dish You Perfected?

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“Thanks for this day, for all the birds safe in their nests, for whatever this is, for life”    ~ Barbara Kingsolver

— —

The past few days have been lovely around our house

There have been afternoons of sunshine, cold beers, and even a bike ride (or two).  We had a picnic, I've walked laps in the pool, and on Saturday we went to a friend's house for an extra cheesy lasagna

It's been summer

I didn't even mind the thunderstorm that rolled through last week.  It had been an especially hot day, and as it started to rain, I opened the windows.  My husband was out of town, so I busied myself with a batch of soup and Johnny Cash on Pandora.  I'm telling you, there aren't many things that sound so sweet as raindrops on the sill, humming along to Johnny and June

At any rate, I think the season is finally upon us.  All the signs are there, including one of the most crucial.  This weekend

I made salsa

Mid Week Inspiration No. 11 - What is the first dish you made over and over until you had it mastered? And summer salsas for all of your dipping needs

Now, before this goes any further, you should know a little something.  I wasn't a raving fan until a neighbor introduced me to his homemade version a couple of years ago

The truth is, once the summer tomatoes arrive, he eats salsa by the quart.  He eats salsa like I used to eat dessert.  Whenever his wife loses sight of him at the farmer's market, all she has to do is head for the tomato display.  He's bound to be there, sniffing and prodding, sizing up the prospects

The man is a salsa machine.  He makes it, he eats it, and then he starts again

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Salsa may not sound like something particularly exciting to make, and it certainly is simple.  Something truly special with an alchemy of sweetness and acid with just enough salt.   His repertoire includes three recipes (of sorts):

A pico de gallo – with ginger and a ghost pepper as secret ingredients

Roasted tomato salsa – 10-12 plum tomatoes, 1-3 jalapeno peppers, small onion, and 3-5 cloves garlic (peeled).  Coat everything in olive oil and broil in the oven at 450-500 degrees for about 10 minutes, or until everything is moderately charred.  Let them cool before putting it all in a food processor with some fresh cilantro, the juice of a lemon or lime, a strong pinch of salt and 1/2 tsp or so of ground cumin

Spicy green salsa – 8 cloves of garlic (peeled), 4-5 jalapenos (seeds removed if you'd like it to be on the milder side), two big handfuls of cilantro, the juice of 2 lemons and/or limes, salt to taste.  Put it all in the food processor, pulse until it's the consistency you'd prefer

Mid Week Inspiration No. 11 - What is the first dish you made over and over until you had it mastered? And summer salsas for all of your dipping needs

As the story goes, he started his quest for homemade sala at a local taco stand.  A place he used to haunt for cheap plates of beans and rice and a trip through their salsa bar.  For those that were his favorites, he made a mental note of the ingredients list and decided he'd try making them at home

And so it began

He'd make a batch, then sit down with a bag of tortilla chips .. breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  And then he did it again.  He was still doing the same thing when he met his wife.  And some days, especially in the summer, he still can't help himself

I've decided one could do a lot worse than eating salsa all day.  Especially any of these.  No matter which you choose, they'll be a wonderful blend of sweet and acidic, bright and rich.  All thick enough to sit tall atop a crisp, salty chip.  Which is, come summer, where we all want to be

— —

Salsa is delicious with tortilla chips (of course), but also with beans and rice, grilled beef, guacamole, slices of avocado, in omelets, taco salads, or pretty much anything with Mexican leanings.  Not to mention, heaped on top of hummus and served with pita chips (or toasted pita bread) as Smitten Kitchen did, inspired by Ina Garten's Instagram post

No matter how its served, I think I've stumbled upon the perfect dinner party spread: a trio of salsas and a pile of tortilla chips


I'm curious; What's the First Dish You Perfected?


ps:  For more Midweek Inspiration: Do you have a signature dish? .. Easy weeknight cooking ideas.. and What do you eat when you're home alone?


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  • Reply Geraline Batarra June 11, 2018 at 10:25 pm

    I’m a salsa-eater too. My boyfriend thinks it’s so weird. I’m glad there’s someone else out there I can point to and say, “See! see! Other people do it, too!”

  • Reply Karin June 12, 2018 at 4:39 am

    It only took about fifteen years, but I finally mastered risotto!

    Everything I ever heard about risotto made it sound like a fussy, time consuming, complicated dish that required special ingredients as well. It didn’t seem to lend itself to home cooking, and would probably require a period of intense study and repeated attempts to master.
    But I kept reading various recipes – tearing pages out of magazines, saving links.
    Several years ago while cleaning out recipe files, I discovered at least twenty different versions of risotto – I decided to get over my apprehension and “just do it.” Never mind waiting for the perfect time – I picked one recipe, made an ingredient list, did the grocery shopping needed and made it for supper that week.
    It was great the first time! It was a hit at the dinner table! It was so easy that I couldn’t understand what all the fuss had been about… and now, after nearly fifteen years of procrastination and longing, I can finally say I’ve got it down!

  • Reply Robin June 12, 2018 at 8:31 am

    The first dish I perfected was my mom’s beef stew recipe. Now her mac & cheese is a whole other story….mine just doesn’t taste right despite the fact I follow her recipe to a T!

  • Reply Melanie June 12, 2018 at 8:46 am

    The weather has been nice here lately too which is nice. I never thought to add salsa to hummus,that sounds yummy. I have no idea which was the first dish I perfected although I do love to cook wen I have the time.

  • Reply Jana June 12, 2018 at 9:08 am

    Your sentence about the rain singing backup to Johnny and June made ME swoon. Ali, you certainly have a way with words. Everything your write is such a pleasure to read.

  • Reply Jeanette June 12, 2018 at 9:08 am

    As always the stuff looks amazing. I really need to come to your house and eat some of the cooking that you make. Everything looks beautiful.

  • Reply Marla June 12, 2018 at 9:16 am

    Over the course of many years, I developed a great recipe for chicken paprikash that I served all the time when I could still eat bacon fat. The chicken got very tender being steamed in onions and then slow cooked in a sour cream sauce. Paprika and black pepper were the main flavoring agents

  • Reply Tasheena June 12, 2018 at 9:24 am

    One of the dishes that I’ve made over and over again and mastered it, is an open sandwich. With sautéed garlic, cherry tomatoes and avocado on toast. It’s so yummy especially when the garlic is cooked to perfection

  • Reply Ana De- Jesus June 12, 2018 at 9:26 am

    I love that making salsa is his routine and there are always activities that relaxes us and are something we look forward to , so this must be his kryptonite. Oh and I love the sound of the spicy green salsa recipe, especially since I am such a huge fan of salsa as well, especially with nachos it is delicious!

  • Reply Candy June 12, 2018 at 10:00 am

    We love our salsa as well and I probably put up 50 jars for over the winter and that doesn’t include what we eat fresh everyday. I plant 50 tomato plants. So fresh and yummy.

  • Reply Meg June 12, 2018 at 10:22 am

    Good salsa is definitely an art. Nothing like making it fresh out of the garden. Screams summer to me….yours looks scrumptious

  • Reply Amber Myers June 12, 2018 at 10:36 am

    Yup, summer is here as well. It’s been HOT.

    I just love salsa. I admit, I buy it from the store. I’m too lazy to make my own. But our local supermarket makes a batch handmade that is amazing!

  • Reply Lori June 12, 2018 at 11:43 am

    Tiramisù. It’s very easy and simple if you find the perfect recipe. Everybody loves my tiramisu and this makes me quite happy, so I always bring it to dinner parties ?

  • Reply Akamatra June 12, 2018 at 2:33 pm

    It’s always a breath of fresh air reading your posts. I love that the love you have for your home shows so much. And to answer your question for me it was pie crust.

  • Reply Echo June 12, 2018 at 2:46 pm

    Love the story behind this recipe! Looks so simple and refreshing for summer, would love to try it! As for the recipe I’m proud to have mastered, mine would have to be vegetarian sausage and mash. The secret of my amazing mash is the ricer utensil I bought recently at a garage sale because it eliminates lumps. I add a little milk, butter, salt, pepper and wholegrain mustard. So, so good! xx

  • Reply Ann F. Snook-Moreau June 12, 2018 at 3:53 pm

    There really is nothing like fresh salsa! My first signature “dish” was Double Apple Bars out of a Betty Crocker kid’s baking book. My family still loves them to this day!

  • Reply Lisa Favre June 12, 2018 at 9:15 pm

    I should really try growing my own tomatoes! So many of my family members do it and I am not quite sure why I haven’t hopped on board yet.

  • Reply Mary June 12, 2018 at 10:04 pm

    I’ll be trying your salsa recipe tonight! Thanks for this, because we’re a salsa family too and they all sound terrific! Glad to hear you’ve had some summery days lately! Happy Tuesday!

  • Reply Farida June 12, 2018 at 10:06 pm

    Eggs are my best friend and so far I’ve have mastered dishes with them in it – omelets, frittatas, egg salad (the list goes on). I think it’s the one ingredient I won’t ever get tired of eating because it is so versatile! By the way, I’m also a pluviophile. 🙂

  • Reply Gina June 13, 2018 at 1:02 am

    This is my first comment but I have been steadily working my way through your blog and I have to say that I love your style of food. It’s really interesting, original and simple. xo

  • Reply Anosa Malanga June 13, 2018 at 2:27 am

    The first dish I made and perfected so far I think is the omelet. I am new to cooking yet and starting to learn more. Before I cannot even make the omelet perfect but now I can already turn it on the other side perfectly. By the way this salsa looks so good.

  • Reply Nayna Kanabar June 13, 2018 at 2:41 am

    I too love salsa and you are right it’s perfect to serve at parties. I particularly like adding grilled corn to my with lots of peppers and tomatoes.

  • Reply Jelena June 13, 2018 at 2:53 am

    I am a great salsa fan. Especially for these warm summer days, salsa is an easy and refreshing dish.

  • Reply Elizabeth O June 13, 2018 at 4:13 am

    This salsa looks incredible! You make such a good point when you suggest serving at parties too it would be such a great addition, especially on a summers day!

  • Reply Chubskulit Rose June 13, 2018 at 5:25 am

    What a great looking salsa. I can’t wait for freshly harvested tomatoes so I can make salsa again. I love that you added protein/bean in it too.

  • Reply blair villanueva June 13, 2018 at 6:10 am

    I love tomatoes, in any shapes and kind – and I can’t help staring at your delicious roasted tomato salsa. Ahh I’m craving for it!

  • Reply Iya - Louisa June 13, 2018 at 7:17 am

    This looks so good I love how you have put your salsa with so many different dishes. The first thing I mastered was scrambled egg at age 8 haha

  • Reply Elle June 13, 2018 at 7:55 am

    We’ve been eating similar foods like the options you’ve shown this week. Mainly because one of my daughters enjoys chopping and the other likes to come with new ideas for what we can eat as a family. Each of the food options you display is simple enough for kids to make and vegetarian. What a win!

  • Reply Nina June 13, 2018 at 9:04 am

    This looks so delicious. splendid photography. What a mouthwatering looking salsa <3 seriously making me hungry hhaaha

  • Reply Jeanine June 13, 2018 at 9:34 am

    Yum this looks incredible. I’ll be honest I don’t think I’ve quite perfected any dish yet besides my grandmas apple crisp! I need to see what else I can come up with and perfect. This looks amazing.

  • Reply Dalene Ekirapa June 13, 2018 at 9:47 am

    Salsa and grilled beef any time…that just reminds me of those outdoor evening barbecues we used to had back in the countryside and we all loved it. I think it was one of the first dishes I learnt to prepare since we had so much of it while I was growing up.

  • Reply Natasha Mairs June 13, 2018 at 11:16 am

    oh wow this looks mouth watering! Perfect for eating in the garden this summer

  • Reply Denni June 13, 2018 at 11:22 am

    summers i swear by salsa’s ! there is nothing more healthy nourishing and refreshing than a bowl of homemade salsa ! that being said pinned and going to try your recipe

  • Reply Lindsey June 13, 2018 at 11:31 am

    There is something so comforting about Salsa, be it on a taco, warmed with a fajita, you name it, it can be rich sweet and can bag a punch too.

  • Reply Samantha June 13, 2018 at 12:04 pm

    Salsa is a great food, you can make it in so many different ways & put it on so many different things. The best summer food!

  • Reply Laura Dove June 13, 2018 at 12:05 pm

    Oh I love that he makes salsa! I’m not a fan due to my loathing of tomatoes but I love how colourful it is and perfect for summer!

  • Reply Carol Cassara June 13, 2018 at 12:17 pm

    You have no idea how much I love food like this during the summer! I think it’s wonderful that your neighbor shared that salsa recipe with you, now I’m definitely going to take note of it and make sure that we enjoy it this summer or whenever we can!

  • Reply Gemille Sleweon June 13, 2018 at 8:14 pm

    I love being able to show different colors in my cooking during the summer. That salsa looks so good!

  • Reply Jennifer Prince June 14, 2018 at 11:28 am

    I love salsa! There are so many varieties, and it’s not terribly hard to make. Plus, it’s so fresh and filled with good things. Yum!!

  • Reply Tamala June 14, 2018 at 3:22 pm

    This looks so YUMMY and not too hard to make. I had Mexican yesterday for lunch and I surprisingly thought of you because it was just so FRESH and reminded me of this post!

  • Reply Chi Chi June 14, 2018 at 5:20 pm

    I love all those flavours, tomatoes are my absolute favourite specially in the summer. For me it was tea!!

  • Reply Michele Dennis June 14, 2018 at 5:57 pm

    I love salsa! I actually haven’t had any here recently… I must change that!! The first dish I perfected was of all things Tuna Casserole…lol

  • Reply Sigrid June 14, 2018 at 10:14 pm

    Is that hummus? Now I am craving for hummus. I really love this Mediterranean appetizer. But I don’t like it too sour, as some make it.

  • Reply Evelyn June 14, 2018 at 11:48 pm

    ? I totally get that he is a salsa eating machine!! It’s fresh, healthy and delish – so why not? ?. Thanks for the gorgeous photos and recipe. I’ll give yours a try. My fave, in addition to tomato salsa is mango salsa. Talk about eating it every day… YUM YUM YUM!! ?

  • Reply Sayanti June 15, 2018 at 12:07 am

    I am not a salsa fan either, but some of my friends are crazy about it. So they are going to love this recipe specially the tomato salsa. Also, the pictures are beautiful 🙂

  • Reply Karla June 15, 2018 at 4:14 am

    Love it! The first dish that I perfected is omelet rice! I always love the flavor of fried rice with a lot of minced vegetables and cover it with simple egg. 🙂

  • Reply Heather June 15, 2018 at 10:29 am

    I’m a sucker for anything with black beans! This looks so yummy!

  • Reply Becca June 15, 2018 at 11:09 am

    To be fair, I’m a massive fan of salsa, so I could probably sit and east it all day too! Haha! I like it spicy though 😉 x

  • Reply Holly June 15, 2018 at 11:55 am

    Yummy! This looks perfect. I am hungry just reading your post! Definitely going to make this recipe!

  • Reply Esme Sy June 15, 2018 at 12:36 pm

    Lucky for you to have a neighbor like that! This looks like the supreme version of all Salsa recipes. I dig it, I want it!

  • Reply Alexine June 15, 2018 at 5:22 pm

    I love to eat jalapeno peppers, the making of your salsa with the roasted tomatoes is easy to copy. I could try it one day at home for lunch, it’s gonna be great for entrée.

  • Reply Farya June 16, 2018 at 3:52 am

    The presentation is the best part of food and this looks so delicious with the variety of veggies

  • Reply Cindy June 16, 2018 at 1:26 pm

    Seriously this looks so good! I am going to try to make it! I love salsas and this sounds like a good receipe to make even for the world.cup parties!!

  • Reply Jennifer Prince June 17, 2018 at 5:18 pm

    This sounds so delicious!! And I need a bit of new inspiration. I love that it’s fresh and fairly healthy, too. Yum!

  • Reply Ash Talk June 21, 2018 at 12:56 pm

    It looks so delicious! Pack me a box full of salsa, I’d love to taste it as your inspiration sounds great to me and with such a passion for cooking, you must be really good at it.

  • Reply Lauren Ashley June 30, 2018 at 11:13 am

    Made this last night since my Roma’s are finely starting to ripen. I served it over squash blossom quesadillas. I deseeded the two jalapenos, so the sauce was very mild by my standards. Next time I’ll leave them in.

  • Reply Ricci July 28, 2018 at 1:56 am

    I stumbled upon your blog while looking for random recipes. I love the way you write and I am looking forward to trying your recipes. Definitely a blog I’ll be following when I’m hungry… which is all the time!!

  • Reply Becca August 6, 2018 at 4:02 am

    I’m a big fan of fresh salsa – you’re right, it’s perfect at parties, with tortillas and crudites 🙂 plus if you make it yourself, then you can make it as spicy as you like (so in my case, super spicy!) x

  • Reply Angela August 9, 2018 at 12:12 am

    I love your writing … about food, about life, about whatever you want to write. Even more, I love the essential human-ness you bring to whatever you’re writing about. As someone who’s read every post on The Veggies, just keep at it. You create a connection that makes me warm and happy and sure there are other friends out there that make me glad to be in this world.

  • Reply Adepoju Grace August 16, 2018 at 1:39 am

    Thank you! I am a salsa addict but have never really loved a lot of the other recipes I’ve tried. Off to the garden to get the simple ingredients 🙂

  • Reply Pujarini September 2, 2018 at 5:18 am

    What a perfect base! Adding some grilled corn and avocado will make a great topper. I love your pictures!

  • Reply Nina July 17, 2019 at 5:37 am

    I made this a week ago and was kinda meh about it. Too much garlic, over-salted, bummed. I put it in the fridge and went on a four-day vacation. When I got back, I got it out with the tortilla chips I had forgotten. The salsa is now marvelous. A little cilantro added to what you’re eating isn’t a bad thing

  • Reply John July 19, 2019 at 11:09 am

    Salsa is only one half of the equation. A true connaisseur if very particular about the types of chips he or she uses. Forget the top brands and looks for the specialty organic chips.

  • Reply brianne July 21, 2019 at 5:34 am

    Just made this after seeing it on Instagram. Once again you’ve proved why you’re one of my all-time favorite recipe writers. I tripled this recipe and still had fresh salsa in under an hour.
    Thank you for giving me yet another way to wow guests.

  • Reply Katie July 25, 2019 at 9:23 pm

    Look at all that color! Gorgeous. And I am sure it is really flavourful. Great job!

  • Reply Leslie August 23, 2019 at 3:22 pm

    This is great! I was just looking for a good fresh tomato salsa recipe the other day. I can’t wait to try this out for a summer tex-mex night along with some homemade guac! Yum. 🙂

  • Reply Morgan September 29, 2019 at 9:14 am

    This was my third time making this salsa and I must say, even in the Fall, it’s delicious! I also found that it gets better over time. I made it for a work meeting on Thursday, then I had some today and it was a lot more flavorful. I think when I make it again I’ll make it a few days in advance. Thanks for the great recipe!

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