One of Doug and my favorite things to do in the middle of summer is to harvest a lot of the peppers and tomatoes from our garden, along with other veggies we pick up from the farmer's market, and make a giant batch of fresh salsa, which we can for the winter. There's nothing better than garden fresh salsa in the middle of winter...tastes like pure sunshine.
So we decided to make a fresh tomato salsa a couple weeks ago and when we went to the cupboard to see how many canning jars we had available, we discovered we had never eaten any of the tomato salsa we put away last year... oops! But we still wanted to make salsa, so we came up with this recipe...which is so good we have already gone through 6 of the 12 pints we canned! We will definitely be making more. It is smoky and spicy, but not too hot and just screams freshness.
A word about canning. Canning isn't terribly difficult, but can be intimidating. If you don't want to bother with canning, just partition this salsa among some heavy duty freezer bags and it will keep beautifully in the freezer for months. I guarantee, it wont last long once you taste the smoky goodness.
Smoky Black Bean and Corn Salsa
(makes 12 pints)
1 lb dried black Beans10 large red tomatoes (heirloom tomatoes could be good here too)
6 large tomatillos, paper husks removed
6 large pasilla peppers (can substitute poblano peppers)
2 large red peppers
4 large green jalapeno peppers
6 ears of fresh sweet corn
2 large red onions
6 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp chipotle chili powder
1/2 Tbsp ground white pepper
1 large bunch parsley, chopped1 large bunch cilantro, chopped
Salt to taste
Mesquite wood chips
Place the dried black beans in a large pot and cover with boiling water by 2-3 inches. Let the beans steep in this water for 1 hour. After one hour, replace water with fresh cold water (covering beans with 3 inches) and bring to a boil. Once boiling reduce heat to keep beans at a simmer, cover pot with a lid and cook for 1-2 hours until beans are tender but slightly firm (al dente). Drain beans and set aside.
Prepare your smoker according to manufacturer directions (we use a charcoal smoker) and soak mesquite wood chips in water. When coals are hot, add some mesquite chips to the coals and you are ready to smoke (you will have to add more wood chips from time to time).
Husk the corn and place on smoker being careful not to crowd vegetables so smoke can penetrate! If there is room (our smoker has an upper and lower tray), place tomatoes, tomatillos, red peppers, pasilla (or poblano)peppers, and jalapeno peppers onto smoking racks, cover and smoke for 1 hour until corn is golden and skins on tomatoes begin to split (tomatillos won't split). This will likely have to be done in two or three sessions so as not to crowd the vegetables. That's the beauty of a smoker: you put your food in, then sit back and watch things smoke while you enjoy a nice cold beer. After an hour remove vegetables to a large bowl and allow to cool to room temperature (or refrigerate overnight).
Remove skins from tomatoes (they will just peel off easily), and chop coarsely reserving all the tomato juice. Place chopped tomatoes in a large stock pot. Slice jalapeno, pasilla and red peppers in half and discard seeds, coarsely chop and add to stock pot. Carefully cut smoked corn off the cob and add to pot. Cut smoked tomatillos into large chunks and puree in food processor, then add puree to pot. Finely chop 2 red onions and add to pot. Mince garlic, and add to pot. Add juice of three limes, cumin. chipotle powder and white pepper to pot. Add reserved black beans, chopped parsley and cilantro, and stir to mix all ingredients well. Season with salt.
At this point, if you are freezing the salsa or eating it fresh, you are done. If you are canning the salsa, you need to sterilize your jars and bring a very large pot of water to a boil. For canning, the salsa must be hot when added to the sterilized jars, but you don't want to cook it into mush, so with frequent stirring heat the salsa just until it begins to simmer. DO NOT BOIL! Add heated salsa to sterilized jars, seal lids, and immerse in boiling water 10 minutes. Canned salsa will keep several years at room temperature.
Serve salsa with tortilla chips. This salsa is also a great base for a southwestern pasta sauce (1 pint salsa heated to a simmer in a skillet, add 1 cup heavy cream, adjust seasonings (add extra salt and some chiptole powder) then toss with freshly boiled penne and serve with fresh grated parmesan.)