Make up a big batch of this zesty, spicy zucchini salsa to use the glut of zucchinis overflowing your garden, and you can enjoy the harvest bounty all winter long.
The Zucchini Monster has struck again! He comes in the night and turns those nice little banana-sized zucchinis into baby blimps ready to take over the world (or at least the kitchen).
I think I’ve picked them all, then I miss a day (just one day) of checking those monstrous zucchini plants (they’re up to my waist) and there they are, hiding under the leaves – massive zucchinis the weight of a watermelon, leering at me! There’s nothing to do but make zucchini fritters, and pie, and zucchini salad, and this spicy zucchini salsa to tame those green beasts.
We go through a lot of salsa in our home – Andreas can eat a jar in one sitting by himself – so it was time to make my own. I found a zucchini salsa recipe online to use as a starting point, then tweaked it til it was just right for us. I added spices and lime juice, and reduced the sugar drastically since we don’t like a sweet salsa – it needs to be zesty and bright and have a good hit of heat (for everyone but me – I am a wimp). The combination of seasoning and intense chili-pepper-kick complement the fresh flavours of this zucchini, tomato, onion, and pepper mixture. The salsa is nice and thick and perfect for dipping generously onto tortilla chips or plopping onto nachos and layered dips.
The men in this household both gave it a two-thumbs-up for flavour and spiciness. Raymond gobbled up a bowl of the zucchini salsa with tortilla chips, then commented that it was the best salsa he’s eaten because he could just feel the burn leaving his mouth five minutes later as he was out mowing the lawn. I guess that’s a good thing.
As for me, I made myself a special batch with half the heat level (*see below) and found it just right. (Although I seem to be able to gobble up quite a bit of the spicy batch when I have a margarita in hand!)
With five huge zucchini plants in our garden there’s no chance of running out of green zucchini monsters to chop up for a bit of zesty deliciousness to snack on all winter long.
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Kitchen Frau Notes: I find the salsa has the best texture when you finely chop the zucchini in the food processor, then chop half the onions and peppers in the food processor and dice the other half by hand to get a good proportion of larger chunks to finer bits.
Use fresh lime juice if you have it, but if not, the bottled lime juice made from concentrate works just as well. In a pinch, you can substitute the lime juice with lemon juice or 1 additional cup white vinegar.
This is a thick chunky salsa. If you’d like it more runny: after cooking, thin it with tomato juice or water to the consistency you’d like, then cook a few more minutes.
Let the chopped vegetables soak in salt overnight so the excess moisture is drawn out. Overnight usually means 8 – 12 hours, though I’ve had it sit for 18 hours before I got to finishing it, and the salsa still turned out great.
*Note: This recipe produces a medium spicy salsa with a good burn. For a mild salsa, use half the amounts of red pepper flakes, dry mustard, and black pepper. For a hotter salsa, increase the chili flakes or add a handful of chopped jalapeño peppers along with the bell peppers.
Spicy Zucchini Salsa
adapted from this recipe online
- 12 cups (1.65kg/3lbs+10oz) finely chopped zucchini (easily done in the food processor)
- 4 medium onions
- 2 large green bell peppers
- 2 large red bell peppers
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- ¼ cup pickling salt
- 6 cups (1.5kg/3¼lbs) chopped, peeled tomatoes (*see how below)
- 2 cans (156ml/5.5oz each) tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons hot red pepper flakes/chili flakes/crushed red pepper
- 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
- 1 tablespoon pickling salt
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon dry mustard powder
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) honey (or 3 tablespoons sugar)
- 1 cup (240ml) white vinegar
- 1 cup (240ml) lime juice, fresh or bottled (about 8 juicy limes)
The food processor works best for chopping the zucchini finely. Just make sure not to process so long that it turns to mush! Process the zucchini in 3 or 4 batches. Dump the chopped zucchini into a LARGE plastic, glass, or enamel bowl or pot. (Warning – I have had a salt solution eat a small hole into a stainless steel bowl, so I wouldn’t recommend using that.)
After chopping the zucchini, don’t wash the food processor canister, but chop two of the onions in it. Dice the remaining two onions finely by hand, and add all the onions to the zucchini bowl.
Then cut an inch (2.5cm) from the bottom and top of each bell pepper. Remove the cores and seeds. Finely chop the tops and bottoms of the bell peppers in the food processor. Cut the walls of the peppers into ¼ inch (.5cm) wide strips, then cut the strips crosswise to form ¼ inch dice. Add all the chopped and diced peppers to the zucchini.
Add the minced garlic and the ¼ cup pickling salt the the zucchini, and stir until the salt and vegetables are well mixed. Cover the bowl loosely with a clean tea towel, and let sit on the counter overnight (8 – 12 hours) so the salt can extract all the excess juices out of the vegetables.
The next day, drain the vegetables through a large colander or strainer. Rinse the bowl and return the vegetables to the bowl. Cover with cold water, stir, then drain again. Place the colander with the draining vegetables over a bowl, and leave to drain for ½ hour. Discard the draining liquid.
While the vegetables are draining, prepare the tomatoes.
*To peel the tomatoes, cut a small ‘x’ through the skin on the bottom of each tomato, then drop them into a pot of boiling water, in batches. After 1 minute, remove the tomatoes from the boiling water with a slotted spoon and place them immediately into a bowl of ice water. The peels will come off easily. Dice the tomatoes into ½ inch chunks.
Place the chopped tomatoes and all the remaining ingredients into a large heavy-bottomed stockpot. Add the drained vegetables.
Bring to a full boil (one you can’t stir down), then reduce the heat to medium and cook the mixture, uncovered, for 15 minutes, stirring often.
Ladle the hot zucchini salsa into sterilized pint canning jars. Wipe the rims with a clean cloth, top with the hot, sterilized snap lids, screw on the lid rings so they are only finger tight.
Then process the jars in a water bath for 15 minutes.
How to process: Set the jars into a canner with a rack or into a large stock pot with a clean dishcloth in the bottom. Put in only as many as will fit easily. You may need to do several batches. Pour hot water into the pot until it comes just up to the bottom of the screw rings on the jars. Bring to a boil. Cover the pot, and turn the heat down a bit so the jars continue to boil vigourously but don’t boil over. Boil them for 15 minutes. Then remove the jars with canning tongs and set them onto a towel on the counter. Don’t disturb them until they are completely cool. Check the seals: if the jar lids have been sucked down so they don’t move when you press a finger into the center of them, the jars are sealed. If the lids are still slightly bulged upward and you can move them up and down when you press with a finger, they didn’t seal and should be stored in the fridge to use up within the next month or two.
Tighten the rings on the sealed jars and store them in a cool dark place for several years.
Makes 9 or 10 pints.
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