Tomato With a Mexican Twist

By Kim O'Donnel
Wednesday, February 20, 2008; 12:00 AM

2 to 3 servings

Heat a few tablespoons vegetable oil or olive oil in the pot. Add 1/2 diced medium onion and a few chopped cloves garlic. Add 1/2 diced red bell pepper and 1/2 seeded, diced habañero chili pepper. Add 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon fresh or dried oregano and 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper or smoked paprika. Stir into a paste. Add a splash of tequila, if desired. Add a 28-ounce can tomatoes (plus juices) and 1 bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and cover, allowing the tomatoes to break down; mash with a spoon. Discard the bay leaf and puree the tomatoes, using a blender or an immersion blender, until smooth. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Just before serving, add the juice of 1/2 lime.

OPTIONAL GARNISHES: sliced avocado, tortilla chips, shredded Monterey Jack or crumbled queso fresco (or feta).

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