Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Stone Fruit Salsa

Back in the early 90s, KPBS aired a Saturday cooking show called Cooking at the Academy, referring to the California Cooking Academy. I guess I really enjoyed the show because I bought the cookbook, which I still have. This was one of those books many of us have that have a single recipe we fall in love with and work into our repertoire. Mine was a simple tomato relish made with a couple of juicy tomatoes, garlic, a jalapeño pepper, basil leaves sliced into a chiffonade, and balsamic vinegar. To that I came up with adding diced red onion.

Anyway, I discovered I adored it as an accompaniment to another favorite recipe from yet another cookbook, an eggplant souffle from the wonderful ancient tome, The Vegetarian Epicure. I still make both, although not always paired.

Fast forward decades and I found myself a couple of weeks ago at Specialty Produce marveling at the new delivery of stone fruit from the Santa Monica Farmers Market. I ended up writing a piece on four types of cherries for my Local Bounty post for San Diego Magazine, but I also had picked up some lovely peaches, plus I had a couple of plums already at home. What to do with this bounty?

And my mind somehow went to that tomato relish. So, how about a savory stone fruit salsa loosely modeled on that relish?

I had a serrano chile, basil growing in my garden, a lime and white balsamic vinegar from Temecula Olive Oil Company, which I thought would work better with fruit. Plus, a slew of cherries and other stone fruit.

But, how would this be used? Well, that was easy. All those flavors could go sort of AC/DC, complementing fish or carnitas tacos, grilled salmon, black cod, pork tenderloin, duck, or--what I had the first night--grilled flank steak. Or it could be served as a savory component in a dessert, over a rich vanilla ice cream, lemon cake, or even a decadent chocolate brownie.

Or a souffle.

Stone Fruit Salsa
(printable recipe)

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

2 dozen cherries, pitted
2 plums
1 large, firm peach
1/2 serrano or whole jalapeño pepper
1/4 medium red onion, diced
1 1/2 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
juice of 1 lime
pinch of salt
freshly ground pepper to taste

Chop the fruit and the pepper (removing the seeds if you want to reduce the heat intensity). Add to a bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Mix well and refrigerate for an hour. Adjust the seasonings. If you want it sweeter, add a little honey to taste.

If you don't have a cherry pitter, find one. It might also be labeled an olive pitter. It's wonderfully handy.

Stone fruit salsa

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