By the time that May came around, Michael and I were both resigned to the fact that the season for braising meat was over. Aside from the occasional pizza-making jaunt, keeping the oven on for more than fifteen or twenty minutes seemed silly, especially after having a few weekends of sunny and slightly scorching weather–a summertime preview, if you will. That changed this past weekend when a cold front turned the city into a wind tunnel for much of Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday, and suddenly a craving for beef shanks didn’t seem all that odd despite the fact that the prior weekend we were sweltering in sundresses and shorts (respectively, of course).Out came the Antojitos cookbook once again, and this time we swapped out lamb shanks in favor of beef (a rarity to be sure as it would normally be the other way around) and slathered them with an ancho chile paste that had both sweetness and heat. When we layered guacamole and a little cheddar on top, the final results were decadent, rich, and oh-so-delicious. We ended up pairing it with one of our favorite salsas that was a nice, fresh and texturally different dish–a bright and clean dish that will be making many appearances on our table come summertime.
Michael was in charge of that part of the meal; my contribution was making our favorite salsa that glorifies the onion as much as it does the tomato (if not more, to be honest) and elicited a wonderful compliment from my company’s creative director after bringing it in for a chili cookoff: “You make good salsa for a white girl.” There’s not much to the salsa, to be honest–just a lot of chopping and dicing–but your efforts are rewarded tenfold, especially as you let the salsa sit in the fridge.
Tomatoes are finally starting to smell like tomatoes once again, so it feels fitting to share this recipe. Nothing says “harbringer of summer” like this simple dip:
Simple Tomato-Onion Salsa
- 2 Vidalia onions, diced
- 4 plum or vine-ripened tomatoes, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, diced
- 1 poblano pepper, seeded, diced
- 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded, ribs removed and diced (for more heat leave seeds and ribs intact)
- 1/2 bunch cilantro, minced fine
- Zest of one lemon
- Juice of one lemon
- Kosher salt
Combine onions, tomatoes, garlic, peppers, cilantro and lemon zest into a bowl and mix. Add lemon juice, and then season to taste with kosher salt.
Serve immediately or cover and let sit for no more than 48 hours (note: if not serving immediately, slightly under-season to prevent tomatoes and onions from softening).