Seeing Red: Farmers Markets and Roasted Tomato Salsa

This was a most excellent weekend.  A busy, exhausting one, but most excellent indeed.  Let’s recap, shall we?

First, Josh and I had breakfast with my friend Jessica and her mom at Beezy’s in Ypsilanti, which is my favorite restaurant in the entire city, I’m pretty sure.  We stopped at the Depot Town Farmer’s Market to do a bit of shopping and to pick up our farm share with Needle Lane Farm.  I love this share so much.  It’s ending soon and I know from last year, I’m going to miss it so much over the winter.  Plus, I love the people at the farm, so I’ll miss seeing them.  But anyway, we picked up our share and got some good peppers and cabbage and beans and a big bag of tomatoes.  Remember that, because it’s going to come up again later.  And you will be tested.   Anyway, after the market, we wandered up to Beezy’s for some delicious breakfast food with which to celebrate Jessica’s passing out on the bar…exam.  (Love you, Jess :-))  I am convinced that Beezy’s has the best breakfast sandwiches in Washtenaw County at the very least.  I got the breakfast eggel—-asiago bagel with scrambled eggs, ham and provolone cheese.  And a hot chocolate.  Which, by the way, was not a cup of hot water or milk with powdered mix thrown in.  Or syrup.  Oh no.  This was Calder Dairy chocolate milk that was steamed and frothed.  It was amazing.  I live three blocks from Beezy’s.  I think it’s safe to say that if you can’t find me this winter, it’s because I’m down there, face-down in a cup of their hot chocolate, trying to make it through the winter.But I digress.  After bidding adieu to Jess and Helen, Josh and I bundled up and headed off to Eastern Market in Detroit.  I’ve talked about this before, so you know how much I love Eastern Market.  It was pretty late at this point–11am or so (late for us, ya slackers)–and it was cold, overcast and occasionally rainy, so I wasn’t sure much would be going on.  I was, of course, totally wrong.  It was bustling and busy.  People were picnicking under umbrellas and in plastic ponchos.

It was row upon row of beautiful, colorful end-of-summer and fall veggies.  Some guy was carving a 500 pound pumpkin.  You don’t see that too often.  Unless you come back to this blog post every day and look at the picture.  Then I guess you can see that pretty often.

We also picked up one more thing.  More tomatoes.  Roma tomatoes.  About 30 pounds worth, maybe.  For $8.  Seriously.  I can barely buy  burger someplace or $8, let alone get 30 pounds of fresh tomatoes so it was a pretty good deal.  We picked them up because Josh was just itching to can something.  Which brings us to Sunday…

Actually, that didn’t bring us to Sunday.  The steady march of time brought us to Sunday.  But whatever.

I won’t go into detail about Josh’s canning process, except it was hot, messy and produced delicious results that hopefully won’t kill us, much like all canning processes.  But you can see the delicious results in the pictures below.

Inspired by the terrific treasure trove of tasty tomatoes (alliteration!), I decided that for the (super simple) dinner of nachos I made Sunday night (because who wants to do something complicated after all that exhausting work of watching Josh?), I would use the tomatoes from the farm share (told you!) to make my own salsa.  Only instead of just throwing everything in the blender and making a fresh salsa, I wanted some really good tomato-y flavor.  I opted to roast everything instead, because roasting is the best cooking technique there is.  It’s easy, it’s low maintenance and it produces amazing flavor in just about everything.  So there you go.  That tip is my gift to you.

So I made the salsa, which turned out even tastier than I had expected, and made a batch of nachos that had ground beef, a bevy of bell peppers, onions and sauteed spinach.  I added a bit of the salsa into the meat while it was cooking and served the rest on top.  We piled the meat mixture onto white corn tortilla chips, sprinkled them with shredded cheddar and some of the morel-leek jack cheese that I love so much and put on everything and popped them into the oven to bake and get all melty and gooey.  It was delightful, and exactly what I needed after a long day of watching Josh work.  :-)  Maybe next time I’ll have him can my salsa too.

Super Easy Roasted Tomato Salsa
2lbs. tomatoes (romas are especially good)
1/2 large onion, quartered
3 cloves garlic, whole
1 chili pepper, whole
olive oil
salt and pepper
1 tbsp lemon or lime juice
2-3 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro, to taste
1 tbsp sriracha sauce, or to taste

Place tomatoes, onion, garlic and chili pepper on a baking sheet.  Sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in the oven at 400F for about 30 minutes or until tomatoes are well softened and a bit charred.  Let cool for a couple minutes, then place everything in a blender (squeeze the garlic out of the paper husk if you left it on) and blend until mostly smooth.  If you like hotter, use more sriracha.  If you absolutely don’t want any heat at all, leave it out.  Pour into a dish and serve–warm is best, but not required–or can and save.

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