Salsa is one of those things I usually buy in a jar. I don’t know why I don’t make my own salsa more often, it’s not like it’s difficult to do. I think it’s because fresh tomatoes in any other season but the current one are always so anemic-looking and tasteless.
But tomatoes are spectacular right now, that’s for sure. This is the best tomato season I can remember in a long time here in North Carolina. I decided to take advantage of the bounty and make my own salsa.
Salsa from a jar, in general, is a low-carbohydrate food that’s pretty healthy. However, some brands are chock-full of salt and others have added sugar. Many jarred salsas also contain “natural flavoring” whatever that is. (I’m guessing if it was something good, they would be more specific.)
The salsa recipe below gets a boost of protein from the shrimp and you can make it as low-sodium as you’d like. Plus you won’t have to worry about what that mysterious “natural flavoring” might be. The majority of the sodium in the recipe comes from the shrimp, tomato sauce and the added salt. If you are watching your sodium intake, reduce the amount of shrimp, use low-sodium tomato sauce and/or skip the added salt.
If you want to start with raw shrimp, keep it in the shell and bring a combination of water and apple cider vinegar to boil in a large pot. Add the shrimp and cook just until the shrimp turns opaque (it won’t take longer than about 3 minutes). Transfer the shrimp to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. When cool enough to handle, peel the shrimp and proceed with the recipe.
If hot and spicy isn’t your thing, substitute a banana pepper or some green bell pepper for the jalapeño.
Serve this Shrimp Salsa with celery sticks, sliced cucumbers or tortilla chips (if you can afford the carbs).
Adapted from The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook by Mark Hyman, MD
2 pounds cooked shrimp, peeled
1 large onion, minced
2 tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped (I used heirlooms)
1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
2 avocados, peeled, pitted and finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
juice of 4 limes
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce or chunky tomato sauce
freshly ground black pepper
Chop the cooked shrimp into bite-sized pieces. Add to large nonreactive bowl along with the onion, tomatoes, jalapeño, avocado, garlic, lime juice and tomato sauce. Season with salt and pepper and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving.
Leftover salsa can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Makes 8 servings
Per serving (salsa only, no dippers): 224 calories, 9g fat (2g sat), 162mg cholesterol, 384mg sodium, 13g carb, 5g fiber, 3g sugar, 24g protein
I’m not a big fish-eater, but salmon is one fish I do enjoy in dishes such as Smoked Salmon Cucumber Rolls, Baked Salmon with Roasted Vegetables and my go-to appetizer was usually Smoked Salmon Spread until I stopped eating dairy.
While reviewing Rinku Bhattacharya’s new book Spices & Seasons, the colorful photo of Salmon in a Tomato, Thyme and Ginger Sauce jumped out at me. As I read the recipe, my first reaction was “yay, this fits with the new diet I adopted after completing the 10-Day Detox!” My second reaction was “hooray, I’ll finally get to use the curry leaves I bought at Penzey’s a while back!”
This dish is quick to prepare and the flavors of both France and Southern India will wow you. I made a few minor changes to the recipe:
- I took the skin off my salmon.
- I substituted coconut oil for the olive oil.
- I used dried curry leaves. (I’m assuming Rinku used fresh ones.)
- I used fresh lemon thyme instead of regular thyme (because that’s what is growing in a pot on my deck).
- I skipped the cilantro because the CompostMaster thinks it tastes like soap.
- I served the salmon over greens instead of rice.
I hope you enjoy this spicy take on salmon as much as I did.
Salmon in a Tomato, Thyme and Ginger Sauce
Reprinted with permission from Spices & Seasons by Rinku Bhattacharya
Pondicherry (or Podduchery) is a small area in southern India. A former French colony, the town retains a very prominent French influence on the culture, traditions, and food of this region which results in a unique cuisine that combines French flavors with traditional South Indian spices. This simple, tangy fish creation, with light overtones of thyme, is based on something I chanced on several years back in a New York restaurant called Pondicherry. If you do not have thyme, you can use ajowain or carom seeds.
Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 20 minutes | Serves: 4 to 6
2 pounds wild-caught salmon fillets, skin on
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons salt
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
8 to 10 curry leaves (optional)
1 medium white onion, chopped
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 or 3 green Serrano chilies, minced
3 tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
- Cut the salmon into 2-inch pieces. Rub with the turmeric and half the salt. Set aside.
- Heat the oil in a skillet. Add the mustard seeds and when they crackle add the curry leaves if using.
- Add the onion, ginger, and green Serrano chilies and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and translucent.
- Add the tomatoes, the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, and the thyme and cook on low heat until the tomatoes are nice and soft and pulpy.
- Stir in the basil and vinegar and gently add the salmon. Poach the salmon on low heat for 7 minutes. Do not overcook, it is important for the salmon to be just moist but not dried out.
- Garnish with the cilantro and serve over rice, if desired.
Makes 6 servings
Per serving: 211 calories, 9g fat (1g sat), 73mg cholesterol, 824mg sodium, 5g carb, 1g fiber, 3g sugar, 32g protein
During my junior year of college, I lived in a 12-unit apartment building off-campus. The guys who rented the apartment immediately below mine grew up in India. The most amazing aromas of curry and cumin and turmeric greeted me whenever I entered our building. My house smells like that now as I’ve been trying a bunch of recipes from Rinku Bhattacharya’s new book Spices & Seasons. It’s bringing back a lot of great memories.
My diet has changed rather dramatically recently, ever since I did Dr. Mark Hyman’s 10-Day Detox. I received my copy of Spices and Seasons while I was in the middle of the detox and I was afraid to glance through it because I assumed there would be a ton of recipes I couldn’t eat. When the detox ended and I finally looked through the book, I evaluated recipes by their lack of (1) sugar, (2) grains, (3) dairy and (4) legumes. I happily flagged more than a dozen recipes that fit into my new eating plan.
The CompostMaster and I have been trying so many recipes from this book, everything from the Essential Indian Chopped Salad to Salmon in a Tomato, Thyme and Ginger Sauce. Everything so far has been well-seasoned and mouth-watering, although I’ve made some minor modifications along the way. (The CompostMaster hates cilantro, for example, and there’s a lot of cilantro in the dishes.) Rinku’s Citrusy Roasted Beets with Toasted Spices are on tonight’s menu. I’ll be featuring a recipe from the book later this week.
Here are a few notes about the book in general:
- Rinku takes the intimidation factor out of Indian cooking. Her recipes and techniques are practical and simple.
- Rinku writes beautifully. You’ll read about her grandmother’s kitchen, how to create an essential spice kit and getting children to make healthy dining choices among other things.
- For the most part, the recipes make use of ingredients that are easy to find in U.S. grocery stores.
- Rinku is very conscious of today’s special dietary needs and even includes gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan indexes in the back of the book to complement the full-blown recipe index.
- The photographs in the book are bright and so colorful. Every single recipe has a full-page photo beside it.
- There isn’t any nutritional information provided, but the ingredients are sustainable and fresh and most recipes would fit into a diabetic-friendly diet.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed cooking from Spices & Seasons. If learning to prepare simple Indian food intrigues you, check out Rinku’s blog, Cooking in Westchester and go grab yourself a copy of her book.
Disclaimer: I received a free review copy of Spices & Seasons by Rinku Bhattacharya. All opinions are my own.