Hot Hot Hot Salsa Contest 2019

All 12 Salsas in the 2019 Salsa Contest
The 2019 Annual Salsa Contest at the Collingswood Farmers' Market, on Saturday, July 20th, was a hot time; an actual scorcher of a day with temperatures and real feel over 100 degrees in our little Stars Hallow borough.  The heat of the day didn't keep people away from our contest though, we had almost 20 people registered with 12 registrants bringing their best salsa to the contest.  Knowing just how hot it was I was pleasantly surprised to see that many people braved the day's heat to join us.

Winners! While not every winner came back to claim their prize,
those that did had their photo taken. Top, left to right:
Jane Walker and Emily Thompson; Rich Hartline; Morgan Robinson
Bottom, left to right: Juiette Schrieks-Johnson;
Lindsay and Lewis Hudson; Jerry Martin Jr.
12 entrants made our judging streamlined but not necessarily easy to pick the best salsa of the day.  With so many scrumptious salsas it was difficult to pick a clear winner in each of our three categories - Classic Red; Verde; Fruit.  We had a 2nd place tie in the Classic Red category, and it was close judging for the Fruit salsas.  A one point difference between placing for a win and being a whisper away from fame and glory!

Along with my photos and comments on each of the winning salsas, I have a full recipe for one of my favorites of the whole contest.  Morgan Robinson, created a peach and cucumber salsa that was smooth, subtle, and with a refreshing kick of heat.  I would have never thought to add cucumbers to a salsa before but dag! what a genius idea.  Morgan graciously gave me her photos of her cooking creation along with the basics of her recipe, which I've formatted into a shareable recipe.  It follows below the contest results.

Classic Red

1st Place - #6, Tallsa Salsa by Rich Harltine, Oaklyn, NJ.  My tasting notes were, "Whoa! Whole lotta heat!"  Rich's Tallsa Salsa was a semi cooked red salsa that packed a punch of fiery heat into it.  It was definitely one of my top contenders in the classic red category.

Tied: 2nd Place - #17, The Mild Beagle Salsa, by Jerry Martin Jr, Collingswood, NJ.  I loved the smokey char it had and the balance of sweet from the whole corn kennels he added to the salsa.  This was my favorite of the classic reds.

Tied: 2nd Place - #14, Big Dill Salsa, by Emily Thompson, of National Park, NJ.  Ah! Emily.  One of our loyal contest entrants.  Both she and her mother, Jane Walker, are familiar faces at our annual pie contests.  This year they both entered salsas into the mix.   Emily's salsa was chunky and very pretty with a light and fresh flavor.  Hers was also on my top three list of choices of the classic reds.

Verde or Green Salsa

1st Place - # 12, Very Very Verde, by Yovonne Schrieks-Johnson, Collingswood, NJ.  This was my choice for 1st place, noting that I loved the smooth kick of spice. It was super smooth and it had a real burst of flavor and heat.

2nd Place - # 2, Salsa Samwell, by Lewis Hudson, of Tryon, NC! A guest from the south entered our contest.  Our market really ranks if we have people coming from that far away to enter our contests!  Lewis' lovely green salsa was chunky and fresh, chockablock filled with onion, scallion, tomatillos, peppers.  It was popping with flavor.

3rd Place - # 3, Salsa Grande Verde, by Jane Walker, National Park, NJ.  Rounding out the Thompson-Walker "Twins" Family entries, mother of Emily, Jane's green salsa hit the 4 S criteria for me - Subtle; Spicy; Smooth; and Sour (or I should say acidic).

Fruit Salsa

1st Place - # 5, Tongue Dancing Salsa, by Juliette Daniels, Westmont, NJ. This pineapple rich salsa was definitely one of my favorites.  My notes state, "Pineapple - now that's the ticket!"  Chunky pieces of not quite ripe pineapple pieces that were salted to bring out the sweetness, Juliette also added in an array of black beans, onions, peppers, cilantro, jalapeno, avocado, onions, and lime juice.  All the flavors melded and married, producing a lively acidic juice to accompany all the vegetables.  Well balanced and beautiful too!

2nd Place - # 11, Parama Randy's Crantastic Salsa, by Manny Parada, Cherry Hill, NJ.  This salsa took me by surprise, I like it when people mix it up and turn ingredients into new ideas on old recipes.  Manny's salsa was a fruity homage to salsa that could also be turned into a cool fruit salsa soup.  He used cranberries and mango in the mix to make this unique salsa entry.

3rd Place - # 16, Cucumber Peach, by Morgan Robinson, Collingswood, NJ.  "Love it's simplicity" and the refreshing flavors.  A perfect hot summer day treat.  Morgan, who owns Collingswood's very own Frugal resale shop on Haddon Avenue, shared her ingredients and photos with me so that I may share with you!

Morgan Robinson's Cucumber Peach Salsa Ingredients:

  • 4 Medium Cucumbers - peeled and seeded, small dice
  • 3 Ripe Peaches - peeled and small dice
  • 1 Medium Red Onion - small dice
  • 2 Small/Medium Jalapenos - seeded and small dice
  • 1 Large Garlic Clove - minced
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt
  • 1 Bunch Cilantro - well washed, stemmed and minced - (about 1 cup's worth)
  • 2 Limes - zested and juiced
  • 2 Tablespoons Tequila (buy a small "airplane bottle" if you're not a tequila drinker, it will be enough for this recipe and then some!)
  • 1 Tablespoon Ground Cumin
  • Cayenne Pepper - dash or to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  
  2. Wash and prep all the vegetables.  First, in a large mixing bowl, add in the diced cucumbers and peaches.  Set aside.
  3. Prepare the onions, dicing them into small pieces and set onto a prepared sheet tray lined with either aluminum foil, parchment paper or a Silpat.  Set aside.  Add the minced garlic and seeded and small diced jalapenos to the sheet tray.  Generously salt with the sea salt and coat with 2 tablespoons of  olive oil.  Roast the diced vegetables until they are cooked down and lightly caramelized - about 20 minutes.  Remove tray from oven and set aside to cool.
  4. Once the vegetables have cooled, add them to the diced peaches and cucumbers.  Add in the zest and juice of 2 limes, 2 tablespoons of  Tequila, and season with cumin, cayenne, minced cilantro.  Stir to combine.  Season to taste adding more salt, lime juice and other seasonings as needed. 
  5. Allow the mixture to sit in the refrigerator for at least one hour before serving.  Taste again and adjust seasonings as needed.  If the mixture is too spicy from the jalapenos, add in more diced cucumbers to balance the heat.  
  6. Best served cold.  Will make about 1 quart of salsa.  This mixture can be pureed and turned into a gazpacho.  If doing that, reserve a quarter of the mixture to add back to the pureed soup to give it some texture.  Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and an extra splash of Tequila for good measure!


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