published Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Rave Recipe: Turn up the heat by using local veggies to make fresh, spicy salsa

  • photo
    Lori Gulley’s Fresh Avocado and Corn Salsa can be prepared two hours in advance.
    Photo by Tim Barber /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Lori Gulley still had a number of tomatoes left as the clock neared 6 p.m. -- closing time -- at the Ooltewah Farmers Market last week.

No matter, she says. She'll take the tomatoes and turn them into sauce. She might also turn some of them into salsa.

The Gulley Family Farm stand at the farmers market at Ooltewah Nursery & Landscape Co. offered a recipe card for Fresh Corn Salsa on this afternoon -- the market is open each Thursday from 3 to 6 p.m. -- and many of the ingredients could be purchased among the sellers there.

Corn, peppers and tomatoes were available. Cilantro and scallions might have been on other days.

That's the hope of Gaining Ground, a program of the Benwood Foundation that works to promote the local food movement in the Chattanooga area.

"Local food," a statement on the program's website reads, "is better for the health of our neighbors and [for] our economy."

Corn is the August ingredient of the month in the program's Facebook contest, which asks fans of Gaining Ground's page to submit their favorite recipe. Fans, in turn, can vote for their favorite among the submitted recipes, with this month's winner receiving a gift certificate from the Brainerd Farmers Market.

FRESH CORN SALSA

• 1 ripe avocado, diced into 1/4-inch pieces

• 2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

• 1 ripe tomato, seeded and diced into 1/4-inch pieces

• Kernels from 1 ear of sweet corn

• 1 scallion (both white and green parts), trimmed and finely chopped

• 1 to 2 jalapeno or serrano peppers, seeded and minced (or for a hotter salsa, leave the seeds in)

• 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

• Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper

Place the avocado in the bottom of a nonreactive mixing bowl and gently toss it with 2 tablespoons of the lime juice. Spoon the tomato on top of the avocado. Cut the kernels off the corn and add them to the mixing bowl. The salsa can be prepared to this stage up to 2 hours ahead. Refrigerate it, covered. Just before serving, add the jalapeno(s) and cilantro to the mixing bowl and gently toss to mix. Taste for seasoning, adding more lime juice as necessary, and season with salt and pepper to taste; the salsa should be highly seasoned.

-- Gulley Family Farm

"It's a fun way to celebrate seasonal food," says Ruth Kerr, Gaining Ground program manager. "We hope people will go to farmers markets, shop there and cook with local food."

The contest is part of Gaining Ground's Right Here, Right Now campaign, which also promotes local food through billboards, blog posts, farmers market events and other community events.

"We try to keep abreast of all that's going on [involving local food]," Kerr says.

Gulley says she enjoys making salsa and got the corn salsa recipe from the Internet.

"It looked like it would be really good," she says. "We all like spicy things."

She says she might even vary the recipe. For instance, she recently put together salsa with black beans to create a pint of spicy salsa.

"I never make a recipe the same way twice," she says. "I might add some cayenne (pepper to the corn salsa). That will make it a little more spicy."

The salsa, with two seeded jalapeno peppers, is already pretty spicy, but some palates may prefer even more heat.

The Gulley Family Farm has a Cleveland, Tenn., address but is actually halfway between Cleveland and Dalton, Ga., Gulley says. Although the Gulleys have 27 acres, Gulley farms on one-third of an acre, which is hers to sow, grow, dig and sell.

She says her husband helps when he can but has another job away from the farm.

Contact staff writer Clint Cooper at ccooper@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6497. Subscribe to my posts at Facebook.com/ClintCooperCTFP.

about Clint Cooper...

Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...

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