TOO MANY JALAPENO PEPPERS

What amazes me most in our community garden is how much food one successful plant can produce.

Last week, I was picking tomato after tomato when one of our neighbors came over and offered me jalapeno peppers. I had to decline.

Our plants already were producing more peppers than the four families who share our plot could eat at a time.

“I can’t make any more salsa,” my neighbor said.

I sympathized. My family, also, was growing tired of snacking on salsa spiced with our homegrown jalapenos.

It was time to experiment and cook something else so no food would go to waste.

My 11-year-old son and I first tried unsuccessfully to find a recipe for homemade tomato sauce in the family cookbooks. Eventually, we stewed our garden fresh tomatoes with jalapenos and onions. We added oregano, salt, pepper, garlic. I cut up an eggplant that another community gardener had shared with us and added that vegetable to the mix. My son added more hot sauce. We were giddy adding different ingredients without measuring and trying to find a balance in the taste. We now have several pints of sauce in the freezer.

Another neighbor suggested we take the insides out of the peppers, stuff them with cheese or sausage and bake them to make poppers. We haven’t tried that yet.

We did add freshly chopped peppers to our traditional meat casseroles and burrito recipes this summer. We slipped extra slices of tomato into our grilled cheese and ham sandwiches. String beans have gone in with our boiled potatoes. And we’ve been snacking on cherry tomatoes like grapes.

As plentiful as some vegetables have been, our squash, broccoli and beets were a disappointment.

But their flop has not deterred us from planting more for fall. We’re trying spinach again and radishes. It’s too bad spinach and radishes don’t make a good sauce. I’m thinking that’s the only way my son will consider eating them.

BLACK BEAN SALSA

2 medium tomatoes

1 red bell pepper

1 green bell pepper

1 jalapeno pepper, optional

1 ½ cups fresh or frozen corn kernels (3 ears of fresh corn)

¼ cup chopped purple onion

1 (15-oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained

1/3 cup fresh lime juice

¼ cup olive oil

1/8 cup fresh cilantro

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground cumin

Chop tomatoes and peppers. Stir together tomato mixture, corn and remaining ingredients. Cover and chill 8 hours. Serve with tortilla chips or in pita bread for sandwiches or on lettuce or spinach for salad.

Yield: 7 cups

–c

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