Basil-Tomato Salsa

Salsa recipes are versatile and this is one that says Summer! Serve the “Basic Recipe” with chips or crackers.
The goat cheese log shown resting on a nest of wild arugula is summer fare. Make the full “Basic Recipe” and use half for this smokey paprika version. Add 1/4th tsp. Nichols triple smoked paprika and 1 tsp. olive oil and serve with goat cheese. Adding a spoonful of chopped capers to the “Basic Recipe” portion gives a lovely Tuscan quality. Pile onto toasted bread slices for bruschetta. These salsas are good with fish. If your palate wants more heat, acid or garlic adjust accordingly. You are the cook and summer abundance invites improvisation.

Basic Recipe
6 medium Roma Tomatoes (3 cups diced)
1 large mild onion (Walla Wallas if available)
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
4-6 Jalapeno peppers –deseeded
1 cup basil leaves, finely slivered and tightly packed
juice of 2 lemons or ¼ cup red wine vinegar
salt & pepper, to taste, a touch of sugar if needed

With a well sharpened knife trim and finely dice the tomatoes, onion, and garlic. Deseeding peppers improves texture of the salsa and produces a milder flavor. The basil leaves need to have stems trimmed away before chopping. Adjust seasonings to your taste. If you prefer to use slicing tomatoes, chop, let sit for a few minutes, and drain off excess juices.
I’ve used wild arugula which holds up in summer heat better than our standard arugula. Both will be delicious, Spread your cracker or toast with goat cheese “Chevre”, add a few sprigs of arugula and top with salsa.

Gardeners tip: beginning July 1 soils in the continental US are warm enough to direct sow basil seeds. Sow seeds about 1/2 inch apart in a sunny spot, keep damp as seeds germinate and plants develop. Thin to allow 3-4″ between developed plants. Start harvesting when 4″ tall. This is always my main crop for pesto. All this clipping doesn’t make for beautiful plants but the flavor and production is great.

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Gardening On The Edge 2010

Keane and I are still savoring the totally wonderful Saturday we spent in Newport. I was as unrealistic as ever when greeted by a gazillion, beautiful, well-grown plants and bought enough to keep us busy this holiday weekend. Forget barbeques, we’re just trying to plant and get the deck cleared.
One thing I love at these shows is seeing and talking with friends and customers. Mike Darcy of KXL 750 and “In the Garden” broadcast from the show. He generously invited me to talk for a bit and answer call in questions. Kym Pokorny of the Oregonian newspaper “Home & Garden” magazine, Ed Hume, Luci Hardiman and Jim Gilbert were all speakers and all are established plant experts. It’s a great little show and a fine place to spend a weekend in June. Hope to see you next year. Here Keane and I are with our friend Ed Hume, shown on the left, seedsman and fellow garden writer.
Kudos to Jim Myers who organizes this show and benefits Samaritan House, the only family shelter within three Oregon coastal counties. Samaritan House offers both emergency shelter and case management services. Serendipitously, this expo fosters community among Northwest gardeners and a great outlet for plant lust.