July 30, 2019

Peach Salsa

I spent the last week in Atlanta, and literally the only thing I wanted to do when it's that hot and humid was to cozy up as close as possible to the air conditioning. Of course, I had to occupy my time somehow, which usually means cooking. However, as I've found out with my woefully inadequate wall AC unit in Chicago, avoiding using the oven or stove is the key to success with summer cooking/overall survival. Now that I'm back in Chicago, I'm trying to make snacks for the 4 hours of Bachelorette this week and keep my apartment under 80 degrees, so heat-free recipes are definitely the way to go. And with all the ripe Georgia peaches I scavenged last week (well, purchased legally from Costco), peach salsa seemed like the best course of action.

When you incorporate a sweet fruit into a salsa, there's a lot of directions you can go in. My first instinct was to do a dessert salsa with all sorts of fruit and maybe some sweet cinnamon sugar dusted chips. Unfortunately, my family may have overdone our Costco trip and we were drowning in tomatoes and onions. Fortunately, those still pair well with peaches if you know what you're doing.

It's all about the balance between sweet, savory, and spicy, so you need ingredients from all the categories in both the chunky part and the dressing part. You can adjust the proportions depending on your personal preference, how ripe your produce is, and, of course, the natural sizes of the ingredients because it's basically impossible to get exact weights of anything. I aim for about a pound of tomatoes, a pound and a half of peaches, and bell pepper, onion, and jalapeno to taste. Remember that knife cuts do matter here because what you see when you're cutting is what you get when you're eating. Nobody wants a giant chunk of raw jalapeno (at least anyone I know of) or a piece of tomato you can barely fit in your mouth. Yes, some bits may get squished and produce can be naturally uneven, but try your best for even cuts.

The dressing is a combination of lime juice, olive oil, honey, and salt and pepper. You can also add some chili powder or other seasonings if you're feeling a little spicy. As with the fruit and veggies, you can adjust the proportions to taste, especially given how much the sweetness of peaches can vary, even when they're in season. The flavors will keep improving if the salsa sits overnight, so don't worry about browning because the acid from the lime juice will keep everything bright and fresh.

The last piece of advice I have for making this salsa involves the peaches themselves. Peaches seem to have a very short window when they're in season, and even then it can be tough to find perfectly ripe ones. Luckily, you can harness the power of science to ripen the peaches yourselves, and it's all because of a helpful gas called ethylene. No, you don't have to go buy any big tanks or fancy equipment, just a paper bag. Fruits like peaches release ethylene naturally to self-ripen, so closing them off in a paper bag out of direct sunlight traps the gas and ripens them faster. To really speed things up, throw in a banana too. I don't think the banana would be a particularly good addition to the salsa, but if it gets you good peaches it's worth the investment.

1 1/2 lbs Peaches, Diced
1 lb Tomatoes, Diced
1 Small Bell Pepper, Diced
1/2 Red Onion, Minced
1 Jalapeno, Minced
Cilantro, Optional
2 T Lime Juice
2 T Olive Oil
1 T Honey
Tortilla Chips

Combine the peaches, tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, and jalapeno. Add cilantro, if using. Whisk the lime juice, olive oil, and honey together, then season with salt and pepper. Drizzle onto the salsa and toss to combine. Chill overnight if possible, tossing occasionally. Serve with tortilla chips.

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