Here's a salsa that's terrific with or without the heat from a chili pepper, and it was inspired by a French cooking legend, Jacques Pepin. A Latin salsa from a French chef? Go figure! Intrigued by an online reference to his 1994 cookbook Simple and Healthy Cooking, I found a used copy of the book and skimmed a few of the recipes to see what a French chef considered simple and healthy. I didn't know what to expect, especially since the hardback was in almost new condition but had been surplused by a public library. Why had so few people checked it out? It doesn't matter, this book is now mine and we're enjoying many of the recipe ideas. Simple and healthy can also be full of flavor.
I have prepared the salsa several ways: with jalapeños, with poblanos, with sweet red peppers and with no peppers at all... this recipe is a versatile base to work with. RL has named it gazpacho salsa - it must be the cucumbers that make that connection for him. My recent versions of salsa cruda have served as a side salad, a topping for pork carnitas tacos, a relish for taco chip appetizers and a major component for Mexicorn salad. Tomorrow it might top a chorizo frittata or fill an avocado half. This recipe is a keeper, for sure. Thanks Jacques.
Adapted from Jacques Pepin’s Simple and Healthy Cooking
2 medium tomatoes, seeded & chopped (Jacques likes his peeled)
1 sweet red pepper, seeded and chopped
1 bunch fresh cilantro, rough chopped (about 1 cup)
1 medium onion (sweet or red), chopped
½ English cucumber, chopped
4 green onions, white & green parts, chopped
4 or more garlic cloves, pressed or a generous sprinkling of garlic powder
¼ cup red wine vinegar
a few tablespoons of lime juice
a few tablespoons of mild olive oil
chopped poblano pepper or minced, seeded jalapeno (optional but recommended)
salt and pepper to taste
Place all ingredients in a medium bowl and toss to mix. Let it sit a bit to develop the flavors, then toss some more. Cover and refrigerate; this salsa will keep for a week or two if need be, though it gets juicier as it sits longer.