So Fresh: Easy Tomato Salsa and Grilled Monkfish

At the beach a few weekends ago, we lounged around reading novels, attempted to even out our tan lines, and witnessed a terrific storm unfurl over the ocean. We trash-talked our way through some scrabble games and gobbled (and drank) our way through several decadent meals. In short, it was a pretty perfect vacation.

After a long morning walk down the shore, the worries of work and stresses of the city erased by the splashing of waves on my ankles, it felt so amazing to stretch out and relax in the salty air with some seltzer, a pile of tortilla chips, and a bowl of salsa. As we devoured it, I made a mental note. It was tasty—but couldn’t it be fresher? How hard could it be to throw together a homemade salsa with ripe summer tomatoes, cilantro from our balcony, some real corn and lime juice, without preservatives or even refrigeration to dull the flavors?

Not hard at all, it turns out. And, as you might suspect, delicious. File this one for when CSA tomatoes are piled on every horizontal surface of your kitchen, when you’ve eaten your fill of August’s corn, for when you just don’t know what to bring to a barbecue. You could throw in whatever you’ve got—sweet onions instead of shallots, yellow peppers for color, a can of black beans, or even a little mango or pineapple. Use it for dipping chips or veggies, for fish tacos or over carnitas, or throw it on some eggs for breakfast. (I used the leftovers to top a single-girl dinner of Whole Foods fat free refried beans—the kind that come with roasted chiles and lime—and placed a fried egg on top, and I gotta say, it was a great meal.)

The salsa was a vivid and flavorful topping for some quickly grilled monkfish I bought at the farmer’s market. I am pretty sure monkfish is NOT sustainable, but it was all that was left at the fish stand by the time I got there, and it worked well on the grill, rubbed with a little bit of smoked paprika. Halibut or cod would probably be just as tasty.

While you’re preheating the grill, I highly recommend you throw some garlic scapes on. They crisp up deliciously and taste like a cross between roasted garlic and green beans. We snacked on them (just picking the whole scape up with our fingers) while the fish cooked, and we could have eaten handfuls more.

Fresh Tomato Salsa
adapted from Alton Brown

2 cups chopped ripe tomatoes
2 shallots, chopped small
juice of one lime
1/2 cup chopped red pepper
1 jalapeno, chopped (seeded if you don’t want things spicy—I ended up adding some of the seeds)
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 tsp EACH: cumin and chili powder (blend)
1/4 tsp fresh oregano leaves, chopped
1 tsp white wine vinegar

optional: corn in season (cut from the cob), 1 can rinsed black beans.

Place tomatoes and shallots in a medium sized bowl, then salt generously and let sit while you prepare the other ingredients. (This draws out the juices.) Add all other ingredients and stir to combine. Let rest at least 20 minutes before serving to mingle flavors (or refrigerate overnight.) Taste for seasoning. Garnish with additional cilantro.

Grilled Monkfish
serves 2

3/4 to 1 pound monkfish filets
olive oil
1/4 tsp smoked paprika

Remove dark membrane from monkfish using a sharp knife. (I found this somewhat tricky, but my knives need sharpening.) In a glass dish or loaf pan, pour a splash of olive oil, then add fish, salt generously, and rub with the smoked paprika. Turn to coat thoroughly and refrigerate for 15 minutes to 1 hour.
Grill over medium-high heat, turning once, for about 5-6 minute per side, depending on the thickness of the fish. Let rest five minutes before topping with salsa and serving.

In fish, garlic scapes, grilling, healthy

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