Local salsa and a simple margarita add up to a quick patio party

So, I'm taking the Farm Fresh Challenge. Are you? This nifty program is designed to encourage us all to shop for local foods and eat a little bit more healthy (and locally) than maybe we were before.

It's not always easy for me to do. I'll admit to finding it hard to make it to the farmers market sometimes, and often it's tough to know where my produce came from when I buy it at the store. This little program is designed to help me with that, and to make me be a little more vigilant for at least a month — hopefully longer.

I'm doing the "cook" challenge, obviously. I like to create new recipes and try new things, so it was right up my alley to challenge myself to use local ingredients in my regular cooking and see how I do.

My go-to snack is chips and salsa. I don't know how many different salsa recipes I have created and how many have been chronicled in this space, but that's the joy of salsa: it can take on many shapes, forms and flavors.

My go-to salsa, admittedly, doesn't use a single fresh ingredient. I always sort of liked it for that because it keeps for a long time in my refrigerator and can be thrown together in about 10 seconds. But dang if I didn't figure out a way to make it with fresh tomatoes and jalapenos, and I might have ruined myself for my simple canned-tomato version forever.

This is my favorite salsa because it's "restaurant style" in that it's runny with no chunks or frills. There are no mangoes, black beans, chunks of pineapple, or bits of corn in this salsa. It is just good, runny, red salsa, and I crave it almost daily.

Restaurant-Style Salsa and a Three-Ingredient Margarita

Restaurant-Style Salsa and a Three-Ingredient Margarita by John Young

Restaurant-Style Salsa

Ingredients

5 or 6 medium-sized ripe local tomatoes
1 fresh (local) jalapeno
Juice of 1 lime
Handful of cilantro leaves
1/3 small red onion
1 tablespoon of sugar (I use Splenda)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cumin
Dash of black pepper
1 teaspoon juice from a jar of pickled jalapenos (more or less to taste for heat)

Directions

First, core the tomatoes. I happen to own a nifty coring device that I use for apples that also works well for this, but you can also just dig the cores out with a paring knife.

Bring a pot of water to boil and blanch the tomatoes for about 3 minutes, until the skins loosen. Drain the water off and run under cold water (or even add an ice bath) to stop the cooking process. Pull the skins off the tomatoes. They should slide right off with no trouble at all.

I just dump all the ingredients into a tall Tupperware container and give it a thorough blend with my stick blender, but you could put it all into a traditional blender if that's what you have. Leave no chunks! This is supposed to be runny!

Serve with GOOD tortilla chips. A salsa is only as good as the chip you serve it on.

And to go with any good runny salsa, you have to have a margarita, right? This one uses only three ingredients and even I cannot screw it up. It's not local, but it's delicious, and it's the perfect complement to a good restaurant-style salsa.

Three-Ingredient Margarita

Ingredients

1 large can frozen limeade
24 oz yellow beer (like Bud Light or Coors, etc)
1 cup tequila

Directions

Stir it all together and serve over ice.

Look! It's a party!

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