2008-09-04

Zesty Tomato Salsa

Before I had a child, I was completely clueless about the market for food specifically designed for children and the huge industry behind it. It's as if I was oblivious to an entire culture or ethnic group living among the adults with a completely different cuisine. Sure, I know that kids seem to universally adore pizza, and I can be enough of a food snob to mock anyone who serves or eats pasta out of a can. Still, while I was breastfeeding and blissfully unaware of all the food allergies waiting just around the corner, I started reading the labels on those adorable little jars with the chubby cheeked baby on them. I was in for a shock.
Next time you are in a grocery store, go check the sodium and fat in one of those cute jars of Vienna sausages. I'll be waiting for your reaction in the comments.
So I was one of those obsessive compulsive mommies who made all their own baby food. It really wasn't that hard. All I had to do was steam some fruits and veggies, run the more fibrous ones through a food mill, and bake the occasional sweet potato. It was better for my child, much more frugal, and I felt amazingly virtuous. Then, as we continued to introduce foods, projectile vomiting and full body hives became regular occurrences, and I permanently retired my pedestal.
There are some silver linings to food allergies. Not being able to feed my child most of the hydrogenized, over processed, excessively salted, corn syrup laden and fat filled food marketed specifically to children is not a bad thing. Not only does that crap contribute the increase of childhood obesity, I truly believe it dumbs down our kids' palates. By upping the quotient of salt, fat, and sweet, other flavors simply don't stand a chance as they develop taste preferences.
There are necessary adjustments when cooking for kids. My son's still developing brain needs more healthy fats than my sluggish metabolism can tolerate. (Though I still haven't managed to change my habits. Sigh.) Mostly, the biggest differences in my cooking involve reducing the spiciness while doing my best not to sacrifice flavor. I have replaced yellow onions with sweet ones as a staple in my kitchen. Instead of fresh ground black pepper, I use white. I'll spice up some dishes after my son's portion has been removed. If I make turkey chili, I'll simply hand my husband a bottle of hot sauce, and let him doctor his own bowl. All of which finally leads to the salsa!
To be honest, this isn't my son's favorite dip, but he is able to eat it without singeing his tongue, and he doesn't freak out when it makes an appearance. I served it at his birthday party more for the adults, but it was not out of place on a table full of children's food. The fresh cilantro and lime juice are simply addictive, and the salsa also makes a nice topping for chicken or fish.
Ingredients:
3 beautiful ripe tomatoes

1/2 small sweet onion, finely chopped

1/4 C fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

1 Tbs lime juice

kosher salt to taste

Wash, core, and quarter tomatoes. Remove seeds, and chop into small pieces, along with the cilantro and sweet onion. Combine all ingredients and adjust salt to taste. Serve immediately or refrigerate. The longer the salsa sits, the more the flavors will meld, but also the more the tomato will macerate and the juicier the salsa will become, so don't make this too far ahead of time.
Finally, I'd like to wish Susan of Sticky, Chewy, Creamy, Gooey a very happy blogiversary. I'm sending her this recipe along with my congratulations, and hope to see you all at her party!

5 comments:

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

Looks great! This will make a wonderful addition to the party "buffet"! See you at the Bash!

Nanc Twop said...

It does look good, and I'm sure my SO would love it... but for me I would substitute parsley for the cilantro.

I'm one those for whom cilantro tastes like soap. Maybe your son is like that, and that's why it isn't his favorite?

p.s. This blogger talks about how a dislike of cilantro may be a mild food allergy reaction.

kamailesfood said...

I love fresh salsa. Yum!

Excellent points by the way. I'm one of those obsessive compulsive mommies that makes her own baby food. lol AND I have looked at those "meat sticks" for toddlers. What a shocker!

Miryam (mama o' the matrices) said...

Mmmmm, salsa. Now I'm wondering what kind we're having for shabbat this week!

I agree: the way that Americans eat is just depressing. It's simply not real eating! We eat for the fats, the salts, the sugars, the carbs - and we eat less mindfully of the flavors than other cultures. Corporations have an alarming amount of influence over our dinner table (high fructose corn syrup, anyone?).

Of, course, as the kid whose crazy immigrant mama packed her a half avocado, twist of salt and pepper, and lemon slice to squeeze on top....I was clearly warped from day one.

joanne at frutto della passione said...

My son loves salsa and tortilla chips. Thanks for this recipe. We look forward to making it together.