Jana Stocks Brown
Tomatoes, onions, peppers and spice make a great salsa for a summer barbecue.

Every year when we plan out our garden, we try to plant something we've not tried before. Some years it's been herbs, one year potatoes and rainbow carrots, and last year we tried a pattipan squash that was excellent in salads, breads and muffins.

Despite our love for experimenting, we also keep space for our favorites, those fruits and vegetables that always make an appearance in our garden and on our table. These favorites include roma tomatoes, onions and a variety of peppers — basic bells and one or two spicy varieties that grow well in Utah soils. These fruits and vegetables (remember tomatoes and peppers are fruits!) have a place in many recipes, but with the meaty mild flavor of Roma tomatoes and the sharp spice of peppers, we love them most in summer salsas.

This recipe is for a fresh salsa and not to be home-canned. For approved canned salsa recipes, please consult the Ball Blue Book or your local extension office at extension.usu.edu.

Easy Garden Fresh Salsa

3½ cups peeled, cored, chopped tomatoes (about 5-7)

2 cups seeded, chopped chili peppers (choose varieties for desired spiciness)

1 cup chopped red onion

½ tablespoon cumin

2 teaspoons chili powder

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons sugar

1/3 cup red wine or cider vinegar (for a milder flavor use ¼ cup lemon juice)

Chop and combine all fruits and vegetables, mixing well. For a smoother consistency salsa, puree fruits and vegetables in a blender or food processor. Add spices and vinegar and allow to sit for 30 minutes to develop flavors. If needed add up to 6 ounces of tomato paste or ¼ cup Ultra Gel to attain desired thickness.

If you like a cooked flavor for your salsa, you can roast the fruits and vegetables along with 2-3 cloves of garlic at 400 degrees for 20 minutes before blending and adding the spices and vinegar.

— Jana Brown

Jana Brown is a writer, wife and mother. She is an excellent cook and avid reader. She blogs at cornabys.wordpress.com. Twitter: Cornabys