- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Salsa has become a modern American cooking staple, but it may come as a surprise to know that salsa has been a California tradition since the late 1800s.

As Jacqueline Higuera McMahan pointed out in “California Rancho Cooking” (Olive Press), it was once known as sarsa and was made from fresh ingredients grown on ranches. It was served at the table to accompany barbecued meats, to spoon over beans and to spread over big hunks of French bread.

Crispy pita chips are just right for scooping up the colorful relish. This salsa can be made for a crowd by multiplying the ingredients. It’s best to put this together just before serving.

Salsa is more than just a dip; it’s also a way to heighten simple grilled fish, poultry, meat and vegetables, so think of complementary flavors. Salsa can be made with a vast array of fruits and vegetables.

Greek salsa with pita crisps

Makes 4 cups. This recipe is from “Sips and Apps: Classic and Contemporary Recipes for Cocktails and Appetizers,” by Kathy Casey.

SALSA:

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano

1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups finely diced ripe plum tomato (about 3 tomatoes)

3/4 cup finely diced, peeled, and seeded cucumber (about 1/2 cucumber)

1/4 cup minced red onion

1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic

1 small yellow bell pepper, seeded and finely diced

1 cup (about 4 ounces) crumbled feta cheese

1/3 cup pitted kalamata olives, finely chopped

2 to 3 pickled hot cherry peppers, stemmed and minced

Pita crisps (recipe follows)

To make the salsa: Combine the salsa ingredients in a bowl and mix gently. Serve immediately with the pita crisps.

Note: The salsa ingredients can be prepared a day in advance, refrigerated separately, then combined right before serving.

PITA CRISPS:

Makes 96 crisps.

6 large pocket-style pita breads (about 12 ounces total)

3 tablespoons olive oil

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat an oven to 450 degrees.

Cut each pita into 8 triangles and then separate each triangle into 2 pieces. In a large bowl, combine the olive oil and salt. Add the pita wedges and toss well, coating them evenly with the oil mixture.

On two large baking sheets, spread out the pita wedges in a single layer. Bake for about 4 minutes, then turn the pieces over and continue baking for 4 to 5 more minutes more, or until golden and crisp.

The crisps can be made in advance, cooled thoroughly, and stored in airtight containers for up to 3 days. If necessary, recrisp in a hot oven for a couple of minutes.

TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES

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