Updated: Aug 16
This recipe was featured in "Parties in the Springtime," the May 11th, 2022 episode of Chesapeake Farm & Bay to Table. Chesapeake Farm & Bay to Table is a partnership between Harford County Public Library and Our Common Table.
Right now, our region’s farmer’s markets, farm stands, and home gardens are bursting at the seams with all shapes, colors, and sizes of a beautiful scrumptious berry, better known as tomatoes. This member of the nightshade family is technically a fruit but acts like a vegetable and let there be no confusion about this fact because the Supreme Court even had a say in this in the late 1800s (I swear, look it up). And since 1905 Baltimore has had its own heirloom tomato called “Greater Baltimore.” This is why this month I’ve decided to highlight the recipe we did for Salsa Fresca. This recipe is so delicious that you’ll never want to buy store-bought salsa again! And, it’s pretty simple too. All you need are a few fresh ingredients, a cutting board, and a sharp knife to make this Salsa Fresca.
Salsa Fresca translates from Spanish to “fresh sauce” and this fresh salsa is a delicious addition to many recipes. It can also be eaten on its own with chips as an appetizer. In a recent episode of Chesapeake Farm & Bay to Table, we topped our Rockfish Tacos with this Salsa Fresca and an Avocado Cream and Jicama-Slaw and they were delicious! To download the recipes from that episode, visit this link.
To make this salsa, first, we core and dice our tomatoes. Sometimes I like to use different types of tomatoes or tomatoes of different firmness in order to get a little different flavor and texture profile into my salsa. In Maryland, tomato season is from early July through mid-September, so we’re in peak tomato season right now!
One of the best ways for us to help our Chesapeake Region is to eat locally and in season whenever we can, so using local tomatoes for this recipe can make it that much better. Eating locally and seasonally isn’t just good for the Chesapeake, but it’s also good for us too! Local food is often more nutritious because the food doesn’t have to travel so far from the farm to your table, meaning it can retain more of its nutrients.
After we dice our tomatoes, it’s time to dice up our red onion. I always try to cut up the onion pretty small in order to not get big bites of onion in there. A lot of people have problems cutting onions because they tend to make people get a little weepy. In the restaurant, we have people put a small slice of bread in their mouths while they’re cutting onions and it works like magic! If you want to hear a little more about my onion tricks, check out this video I made on it.
After our onion is diced, we want to remove the seeds from our serrano and jalapeño. We want to remove the seeds to make the salsa milder. The serrano chilis can be very hot, so if you’re not a spice-lover, feel free to omit or add double the jalapeño. After working with chilis, make sure to wash your hands well with soapy water so you don’t go ahead and accidentally touch your eye with spicy fingers!
Next, we’ll chop up our cilantro. We want to have about a ¼ cup chopped, so chop away until you reach that amount. After you wash your cilantro (or any herb in general), you’ll want to make sure it's nice and dry before you begin cutting. Cutting wet or even damp herbs can leave them sticking to everything—knives, cutting boards, fingers… And we don’t want that, we want it in our salsa! Some people don’t like cilantro, so it’s possible in this recipe to omit the cilantro or add in another herb like flat-leaf parsley to give it a neutral yet herby flavor.
Finally, we take our lime and squeeze out the juice into our mixing bowl. After a good mix together and throwing a little salt in there to taste, we have our Salsa Fresca! This recipe is best eaten fresh, but I always recommend letting it sit for a little while to let the flavors meld together and marinate a bit. That way you have the most flavorful salsa possible.
I hope you enjoy this delicious, nutritious, and colorful Salsa Fresca!
For this recipe, you will need:
3 large ripe tomatoes
1/2 red onion
1 serrano chili
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup (chopped) cilantro
Core and dice tomatoes
Finely dice red onion
Remove seeds and mince serrano chili and jalapeño
Finely chop cilantro
Mix ingredients together and add the juice of 1 lime (more to taste) and 1 tsp salt (more or less to taste/preference)
Let sit 1 hour before eating
Live, learn, and protect the bounty of the Chesapeake region.