In my family, Cinco de Mayo is kind of a big deal. Okay, it's a HUGE deal actually. Every spring, we look forward to this holiday as a sign of the rapidly approaching summer season. I guess you could say that we go "all out" for Cinco de Mayo, with colorful table covers and matching dinnerware, a trusty quesadilla maker, festive salt and pepper shakers, a ridiculously large taco-assembly station, a ridiculously large hot pink sombrero, and a blender to be used solely for margarita-making purposes! My favorite part though, does not even involve these fanciful arrays of fiesta-tude; obviously, my favorite part is the food!
Traditionally, our Cinco de Mayo parties consisted of overstuffed tacos, with your choice of hard or soft shells with all the fixin's, cheesy chicken quesadillas grilled to perfection, and dramatic taco salads piled high with fresh vegetables and a dollop or two of sour cream, salsa, or guacamole. For dessert, we usually indulged in my specialty - syrup-covered apple enchiladas (insert "mmmmmmm" here). This year however, I decided to take on a new task beyond my scrumptious tortilla-wrapped apple pie filling; this year, I took on SALZA making. Yes, you heard correctly – SALZA. (Note: This SALZA has so much "Zing" to it, that the "Z" is required for dramatic purposes only.)
- 20 Medium Roma Tomatoes, Chopped
- 2 Red Onions, Chopped
- 4 Bunches Scallions, Chopped, Green Parts Too
- 4 Small Jars Sliced Jalapenos (Optional)
- 10-12 Serrano Peppers, Chopped without Seeds
- 2 Limes, Juiced
- 2 Lemons, Juiced
- 4 Small Cans Tomato Paste
- 2 Tablespoons of Parsley
- 2 Tablespoons of Basil
- 2 Tablespoons of Garlic Powder
To begin, I coated a large sauce pan with a few drops of extra virgin olive oil and heated over medium heat. Once hot, I tossed in about half of my tomatoes, reserving the rest for later. I let them cook down for about 5 minutes before adding half of the chopped onions and half of the scallions, stirring constantly. If you like, you can also add in the jalapenos now too (I didn't because it was already hot enough for my liking). Once everything was in the pan, I brought the vegetables to a roaring boil for 5 minutes.
After they were nice and juicy, I turned back the heat and drained the vegetables, reserving half of the juice for later. Then, putting the pan back onto the stovetop, under medium heat, I added in the tomato paste, parsley, basil, and garlic to the vegetable mix and stirred it well. At this point, I covered the SALZA with a lid and simmered for about an hour, stirring occasionally.
In the meantime, I sautéed my Serrano peppers over medium heat in a medium-sized sauté pan with some more extra virgin olive oil for about 5 minutes. To these, I added the about half of the reserved juice that I had saved earlier from the SALZA, as well as the remaining scallions, half of the lime juice, and half of the lemon juice. I then covered this mixture and simmered for 15 minutes. At this point, I immediately transferred the pan into the refrigerator to rapidly chill the mixture.
Once the Serrano peppers were in the refrigerator, I still had a while before the simmering SALZA was complete. So, I combined the remaining tomatoes, and onions into a small bowl. Over these, I poured the remaining half of the lime juice and lemon juice and stirred the mixture together.
Then I did up all the dishes, watched a little television, moseyed all round, and waited. After a while, the SALZA was done simmering, so I removed it from the heat to cool.
After about 45 minutes, the SALZA was nice and cooled down, and it was time to finish my masterpiece. At this point, I stirred in the cooled Serrano peppers / scallion mixture into the SALZA, along with the raw ingredients that I had had set aside. I stirred until well mixed, and VOILA! - The SALZA was done!
For my Pre-Cinco-de-Mayo party this year, I served this SALZA with my favorite tortilla chips. To make them, simply brush both sides of your favorite corn tortillas with olive oil, stack, and cut into sixths to make chips. Spread them out on a single layer on a baking sheet and season with fine sea salt. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes, rotating once during baking.