Mexcellent! [3 ways with home-made cooked tomato salsa]

[Recipe 1] HOME-MADE CHUNKY COOKED TOMATO and RED PEPPER SALSA transforms into
[Recipe 2] SOUTHWESTERN BLACK BEAN and CHICKEN SALSA SOUP
[Recipe 3] MEXI BURGERS
[Recipe 4] NACHOS

So, I’ve become a serious Insta addict since signing up in April. Nobody warned me how dangerous it was – there are vintage SHOPS on there!!! For a hoarder collector like me, that has meant a conga line of parcels arriving in the mail. My modest set of 3 vintage Japanese ceramic veggie dishes, found in local oppies (thrift stores), has blossomed to become a collection, thanks to @precious_junk, @touchwood_kollektiv and @teenagevintageboy.
My favourite is the green pepper, shown off below as a receptacle for home-made chunky cooked tomato and red pepper salsa. May I just say that this salsa is a knockout! My secret ingredient is biber salçasi (Turkish red pepper paste), available from Middle Eastern stores. It’s thick and rich, similar in consistency to tomato paste, made from sun-dried red peppers.
Below are three totally mexcellent ways to use the home-made salsa.
Southwestern black bean and chicken salsa soup takes literally minutes to prepare as the ingredients are simply dumped into a saucepan and simmered. It’s perfect for a quick mid-week dinner or weekend lunch. We first sampled this soup on our US trip early this year. My recipe is loosely adapted from this one by Betty Crocker.
Mexi burgers are a recent revelation, inspired by a visit to our local burger joint, Grill’d. I cheekily asked our waitress what their secret burger spice was, and she shared that their burgers contain 30% tomato relish mixed in with the beef! This allows them to use low-fat mince, with the relish adding juiciness. I copied their idea, using salsa instead, and Phwoar!
And lastly, Nachos! Seriously, is there a better afternoon schnack?

Vintage ceramic veggie dish collection. Made in Japan.Home-made cooked tomato salsa and 3 ways to use it. One Equals Two. Chunky cooked tomato and red pepper salsa. One Equals Two.[Recipe 1] Chunky cooked tomato and red pepper salsa

Ingredients (makes approx. 1½ kilos/3 lb; or 5 x 300g/10 oz jars)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium red (purple/Spanish) onions, finely diced
4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 kilos (4.4 lb) very ripe tomatoes, peeled, de-seeded, chopped (about 5 cups)
1 small red capsicum (red pepper), or ½ large, de-seeded, finely diced
2 large red cayenne chillis, de-seeded, finely chopped; 1 teaspoon seeds retained
2 tablespoons brown sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
⅓ cup apple cider vinegar
4 tablespoons mild biber salçasi (Turkish red pepper paste)
½ teaspoon salt
⅓ cup lime juice (from 2–3 limes)
⅓ cup finely chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)

Heat oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over low-medium heat. Cook the onion for 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes.
Add all other ingredients except coriander and simmer gently, uncovered, for 40-55 minutes (cooking time will depend upon the juiciness of your tomatoes), stirring occasionally, until thick with a little liquid remaining. Stir through coriander.
Scoop into hot sterilised jars and store for up to 6 months in a cool dark place, or freeze for up to 3 months in plastic containers.

Allow salsa to cool completely before using.
♦ You’ll need 2 heaped cups (about 600g/20 oz) for Recipe 2 (soup), 1 heaped cup (about 300g/10 oz) for Recipe 3 (burgers) and 1 heaped cup (about 300g/10 oz) for Recipe 4 (nachos).

  • Biber salcasi is available from Middle Eastern stores such as A1 and my fave Melbourne food emporium Oasis; as well as online from Amazon and Sous Chef (UK). You’ll find plenty of other uses for it – spread it on pizza bases and use it in place of tomato paste in baked eggs, Amatriciana pasta sauce or Lamb and lentil tagine. It can be frozen in 1-tablespoon lumps wrapped in cling film, for up to 3 months. If unavailable, replace with tomato paste (tomato concentrate) – I’ve tested my salsa recipe with both! Biber salcasi gives a richer more complex result, and tomato paste lends a more traditional flavour.
  • I find 1 teaspoon chilli seeds are enough for a little kick, especially for the kids, but feel free to include all the seeds for a more fiery salsa.
  • This salsa is amazing spooned over scrambled eggs or baked fish; dolloped on tacos, chilli con carne or baked jacket potatoes; and in the following 3 recipes…

Southwestern black bean and chicken salsa soup. One Equals Two.

[Recipe 2] Southwestern black bean and chicken salsa soup

Ingredients (serves 4-6):
2 heaped cups (about 600g/20 oz) reserved salsa (see recipe 1)
1½ teaspoons cumin
4 cups chicken stock, store-bought or home-made
1 x 400g (15 oz) can black beans, drained, rinsed
2 cups leftover chopped cooked chicken (from ½ a roast chicken)
1 cup uncooked corn kernels (cut from 1 large corn cob)

Salt
Fresh chopped coriander (cilantro)

Place all ingredients, except coriander, in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 10–15 minutes, covered, stirring occasionally.
Season to taste (if you’ve used store-bought stock you may not need salt).
Ladle soup into deep bowls and scatter with coriander.
Inspired by this Betty Crocker recipe.

  • Leftover soup can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, or frozen for 3 months.
  • You can use cooked dried beans for this recipe. 1 can black beans, drained, yields about 1½ cups of beans. For 1½ cups of beans, soak 125g (4.5 oz) dried black beans overnight. Drain, place into a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil. Simmer for 40–50 minutes, or until tender. Drain and rinse.
  • You can of course use store-bought Mexican salsa for this recipe if you’re pushed for time! You’ll need 2 x 300g (10 oz) jars.

Mexi Burgers with home-made salsa. One Equals Two.

[Recipe 3] Mexi burgers

Ingredients (makes 8 burger patties, 4 to be frozen for later):
1½ kilos (3 lb) minced (ground) beef
1 teaspoon salt
⅓ cup dry breadcrumbs
♦ 1 heaped cup (300g/10 oz) reserved salsa (see recipe 1)
1 large egg, lightly whisked with a fork
Olive oil, for cooking
To serve:

4 brioche buns (or other hamburger buns, as preferred)
Cos (romaine) lettuce leaves
Reserved salsa, extra (see recipe 1)
Pickled jalapeños
Thinly sliced red (purple/Spanish) onion
Sliced tomato

Mix and squeeze the beef, salt and breadcrumbs together well with your hands. Add the salsa and egg and bring together until well combined. Form into 8 patties (refrigerate or freeze 4 for another time).
Brush a BBQ or ridged grill plate with olive oil. Grill the patties for about 4 minutes each side, until just cooked through.
Meanwhile, split your hamburger buns. You can toast them if you like.
To assemble place a lettuce leaf on each bun, followed by a patty, a good dollop of extra salsa, a few pickled jalapeño slices, onion, one or two lettuce leaves and sliced tomato. Pop the lids on and tuck in!

  • We like our burgers BIG! Use the mixture for 12 smaller patties if you prefer!
  • Uncooked patties can be frozen in a plastic container, with baking paper squares between each, for up to 3 months. Defrost in the fridge overnight, and drain on kitchen paper before cooking.
  • Pickled jalapeños are available at large supermarkets. Replace with sliced pickles or whole cornichons if unavailable.
  • Customise the burgers as you like! Add beetroot, mayo, sliced avocado and/or Swiss cheese (after grilling one side, turn patties over and place a slice of cheese on top to melt).
  • Brioche buns are the best for hamburgers in my opinion, as they’re light and slightly sweet. Mine are from the swoon-worthy Brioche by Phillipe (four stores in Melbourne).

Nachos with home-made salsa. One Equals Two.

[Recipe 4] Nachos

Ingredients (serves 4):
200g (7 oz) corn chips

1 heaped cup (300g/10 oz)
(see recipe 1)
1 cup (100g/3.5 oz) grated tasty cheese
1 large avocado, mashed
Sour cream
Fresh coriander (cilantro), chopped

Preheat oven to 180°C (350ºF).
Line a large baking tray with baking paper.
Arrange the corn chips into 4 piles, and sprinkle with half the grated cheese. Spoon reserved salsa over, and top with remaining cheese.
Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes, or until cheese is bubbling. Remove from oven.
Top each serving with mashed avocado and a dollop of sour cream. Slide nachos stacks onto four separate plates, scatter with coriander and serve immediately.