I think this is my summer of Retro Cooking. And, by that, I mean that I seem to be gravitating toward recipes that were at – or should have been at – all those birthday parties and barbecues we went to in the 80s. Such recipes feature a lot of cans of things you can buy at any old grocery store, and pretty much thumb their noses at the recent (and worthwhile, for sure) ideas of eating local, eating fresh, or eating organic (I know, I know – the horror!) But they’re also really easy and really tasty. And that – right now, when making even one more peanut butter sandwich for The Lad’s lunch seems like too much effort – seems really smart.
I want to see people, to entertain, and do all the things that make summer summer. But everything these days seems so last minute! I know I’m not facing a new problem: everyone is busy, and everyone is looking for something that is both delicious and easy, and that’s been true forever; and that’s why back-of-box recipes and mothers-little-helper ingredients exist, and why some of them have been passed down from one generation’s recipe box to another to another. Sure, I’d love to have the wherewithal to make totally new, totally-from-scratch recipes all the time. But what I’d love even more is to have a life and serve up something great at the same time.
This salsa is a perfect example – my mom had it at a friend’s party, asked for the recipe, and then made it for one of her parties, where I tasted it and had to have the recipe rightthenimmediatelythere. And this recipe is nice because it’s not retro the way that Jello salads made with Miracle Whip and fruit cocktail are retro (that is, profoundly icky retro.) In fact, this is a keeper because it balances convenience and freshness, and because you can make it ahead, and because your guests will be asking for the recipe that day because it is just that
addictive good. And, with the exception of the “secret ingredient,” you probably could get even the canned items in organic versions, if that’s what floats your boat. Otherwise, hit your local grocer, chop a few veggies, pop open a few cans, and enjoy.
Fiesta Salsa (makes about 4 cups – or enough for two days’ worth of light fare parties)
1 bunch scallions, including green tops, chopped fine
1 red pepper , chopped fine
1 yellow or orange pepper, chopped fine
1 14.5-ounce can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 12-ounce can shoepeg corn, drained and rinsed*
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons Try-Me Tiger sauce**
* It must be shoepeg corn. Regular canned corn will be gummy. Of you prefer to use frozen corn, the same is true, and you’ll want to steam and cool the corn before using it in the recipe
** Tiger Sauce is a cayenne-based sweet-and-spicy condiment. Look for it where you find Tobasco and other condiments.
Combine all ingredients, mixing well. Refrigerate overnight, though this improves with age and can keep for up to a week refrigerated in an airtight container.
Serve these with tortilla chips; the “scoop” kind work particularly well.