Usually the school subjects my seven year-old son, Calvin, tends to be jazzed about are recess and lunch. Every day I get reports about how little time he actually gets to eat his lunch and play outside. One day last week, he came home thrilled about extra time devoted to one of his favorite subjects: food. The school had someone come in from Midwest Food Connection to make a recipe right there in their classroom for two days last week.
I’m pretty sure Calvin was in the front row, taking in all the techniques and mixology that went into the recipes. Upon picking him up at school last Tuesday, he waved the recipe card in my face: Mom, we have to make this stuff. It’s SO good!
It was a recipe for salsa. Not rocket science and quite basic. His enthusiasm ensured the ingredients made it to my grocery list for Wednesday. With portions of a whole as the quantity in the original recipe, I increased everything accordingly so I could use the full ingredient. What do you do with half of an avocado, three-fourths of a bell pepper and 18 sprigs of cilantro?
As he hopped out of the car at school drop-off on Thursday morning, he eyed me: We are going to make that salsa today, right? Me: Sure. True to form, after school, he reminded me once more. He stuck his head in the fridge, seeking our ingredients. After everything was assembled and awaiting chop, dice or squeeze techniques, we re-read the recipe and figured out what each of us would do. I am still not comfortable with him using a sharp knife – especially to dice items into small pieces, so I did all of the knife work. I also had him watch as I dismantled the seedy pepper, chopped the tomatoes and popped the pit out of the avocado. He washed veggies, de-leafed the cilantro, scooped out the avocado, squeezed the lime juice, added the salt and mixed everything together. Oh, and sampled to taste: Needs more salt.
I heated up the corn tortillas on a pan on the stove and we spooned the salsa onto the tortillas. We sat at the table for a little lesson in wrapping. Typically, this would be a side dish to a main course, but at 3:00 in the afternoon, it was a perfect snack. I’ve made salsa many times in the past with similar ingredients including garlic, but never with bell pepper. I could have eaten this salsa like candy. Calvin agreed and we attribute the sweetness to the pepper, thus renaming it Candy Salsa.
Remarkably, Calvin was totally onboard with the tomato, which for whatever reason (his Dad’s not favoring them?) he had vehemently disliked since summer. It must have had something to do with the chef’s preparation, other classmates agreeing the salsa was delicious, or just plain acceptance of the common tomato. Whatever. I love his passion in the kitchen. He brought home another recipe from school for potatoes which we’ll be making next week. For starters, we’ll share the salsa one with you:
Candy Salsa (our name)/ Salsa Recipe (official name)
one-fourth red, yellow or orange bell pepper, diced
2-3 Roma tomatoes, chopped
5 sprigs of cilantro leaves
one-half avocado, diced
1 fresh lime wedge, squeezed juice only
salt to taste
Mix together in bowl and serve on warm corn tortillas or with corn tortilla chips.
Recipe from The Gift of Grain Lesson and presented by Midwest Food Connection at Hale school in Minneapolis the week of January 14 2013.