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Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living

Salsa And Guacamole Using Fresh Herbs And Sweet Peas

We’re rolling up our sleeves today to make salsa and guacamole. One recipe dresses up pre-made salsa, and the other re-imagines guacamole using sweet peas.

salsa fresca

Photo: Andrew Olanoff (for WFIU)

Chef Daniel Orr explains, "Give the herbs a rough chop. What you want is to have every bite taste a little different."

We’re rolling up our sleeves today to make some guacamole and salsa. We have two recipes: one gives you some tips of dressing up pre-made salsa, and the other re-imagines guacamole with sweet peas.

Salsa Contest

The Bloomington Farmer’s Market has played host to a salsa contest for 19 years now. Participants could enter their tomato-based, from-scratch concoctions in three categories: raw, cooked, and specialty.

salsa contest

Photo: Annie Corrigan (for WFIU)

All the salsas in the raw category were tomato-based and made with fresh, raw ingredients.

Lynn Schwartzberg is the food writer for Herald Times in Bloomington, Indiana. She judged the raw salsa category.  “The one that came out number one was wonderful because of its balance,” she explains.

The second place salsa was pureed, and while not as visually appealing as the winner, it was just as tasty.  “We thought it was one of those addictive salsas that you’re just going keep eating with a bowl of chips.”

The salsa entered in the specialty category were many and varied.  Candace Finch, part owner of Finch’s Brasserie, was one of the judges. She explains that she tasted a salsa with blackberries and one that was similar to a chimichurri.  The winning salsa, she says, was the only guacamole on the table. “It was classic, it had a nice silky texture, and the avocado stayed really green.”

finch and schwartzberg

Photo: Annie Corrigan (for WFIU)

Candace Finch and Lynn Schwartzberg discuss the different entries in the salsa contest.

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Guacamole Lover

A basic guacamole consists of avocados, garlic, salt, and lemon juice.  That’s according to Erica Howard. She lives in Alabama and is into the real food movement. She makes as much of her food from scratch as possible so that she doesn’t have to worry about additives and heavily processed ingredients in her food.

“Cooking is just really fun and creative to me. You get something really delicious to eat when you’re done. What’s not to love!”

One of the beautiful things about fresh-made guacamole, she says, is that it’s friendly to people with eating restrictions because it’s really just all produce.  Interestingly, her recipe includes lemon juice not lime juice. She says it’s just personal preference. “I’ve always had it in my head that real guacamole was made with lime juice, but my taste won out.”

She likes to finely dice the onions and peppers and tomatoes, but she keeps the avocado chunky.  If the guacamole is made with a ripe avocado, the chunks should still dissolve as you eat it. “It’s not going to be like biting in to an apple all of a sudden,” she adds.

More: Check out Erica Howard’s guacamole recipe and try it for yourself.

Sweet Pea Guacamole

Guacamole doesn’t always have to include avocado. Instead, add some sweet peas and tofu, and you’ve got yourself a great accompaniment to any Mexican or southwestern dish!

peas tofu blender

Photo: Alycin Bektesh (for WFIU)

This vegan dip is a tasty way to use fresh sweet peas and to change up the typical guacamole.

Sweet peas are great to use because they’re really low in fat, but still have a nice sweet flavor and the tofu is a nice source of protein.

(Makes 3 cups)

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound sweet green peas – cooked until skins are tender and shocked in cold water.
  • chili pepper – your favorite, to taste
  • ½ pound silken tofu
  • ½ cup fresh mint
  • olive oil to desired consistency
  • 1 clove garlic – minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • hot sauce to taste

Method:

  1. Puree ingredients together in a blender until smooth.
  2. Season to taste with salt, cracked pepper, and favorite hot sauce.

More: Pair this guacamole with our vegan quesadilla.

Invigorating Store-Bought Salsa

The word “salsa” simply means sauce, so within that broad category, there’s a lot of room to get creative.  But, if you’re not quite ready to try making your own salsa from scratch, here’s a great way to liven up the stuff you buy in jars.

salsa fresca

Photo: Andrew Olanoff (for WFIU)

Chef Daniel Orr explains, "Give the herbs a rough chop. What you want is to have every bite taste a little different."

We are taking something simple and readily available, and we are making it into something spectacular!

Ingredients (amounts to your taste):

  • 1 pint store-bought salsa
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • garlic scapes
  • spearmint
  • Thai basil and Italian basil
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • scallions (bottom third, including white and green portions)
  • lemon zest

Directions:

  1. Remove the stems from the herbs, and roughly chop them
  2. Dice garlic scapes and scallions.
  3. Add olive oil to salsa to prevent the herbs from oxidizing with the acid in the tomato and the lime.

If you have some pineapple, fresh berries, or peaches, you could throw some of those things in this salsa as well. You can use this salsa over some grilled fish or grilled chicken.

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Annie Corrigan

Annie Corrigan is a producer and announcer for WFIU. In addition to serving as the local voice for NPR's Morning Edition, she produces WFIU's weekly sustainable food program Earth Eats. She earned degrees in oboe performance from Indiana University and Bowling Green State University.

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