If you love fresh salsa, here are some fresh ideas

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 17, 2011

By Emily Wilder
For The Salisbury Post
Have you ever been to one of those quick-serve Mexican restaurants with the salsa bar? Every time I visit (which isn’t often), I find myself staring at the five or six options wondering how they could possibly taste any different. The difference, of course, is usually simple: each is increasingly “hotter” in flavor. And then there is the green one. I love the green one. Until recently, I was not even sure what went into the green one.
With a little research, I learned there are more types of salsa than I can count on both hands. We are most familiar with salsa roja, or “red sauce,” made from cooked tomatoes, onions, peppers, garlic, and cilantro. There is also salsa negra, made from dried chilis, oil and garlic; salsa ranchera, which is typically served warm; and, salsa brava, or “wild sauce,” which adds vinegar and paprika.
Salsa verde, I learned, is made from tomatillos, which are a relative of regular red tomatoes, but are green and tart (not to be confused with actual green tomatoes of the often Southern and fried variety).
You can grow tomatillos relatively easily, or they are found at most large food stores, Latin groceries, and even the farmer’s market. When purchasing, select fruit with intact, tight-fitting husks, and the same feel that you would desire in a tomato. They can be stored in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks, or frozen to cook later (husks removed). To use, remove the husks and wash thoroughly, also removing the sticky coating. They can be served raw or cooked, and provide a lemony flavor.
Another way to use all those extra vine-ripened red beauties of late summer is by adding fruit to traditional salsa recipes. Peach, mango, and pineapple all make excellent additions. Watermelon and jalapeno salsa or cucumber and radish salsa are two other non-traditional ways to create your own recipe.
Experiment with corn and pita chips, cinnamon crisps, rice cakes, crackers, or sliced jicama for a complementary crunch to your sauce. (If you aren’t familiar with jicama, check out my Green Kitchen blog on the Post website for a quick and easy snack.)
Aside from tomato- and tomatillo-based recipes, there are also salsas specific to certain regions of the world that use other ingredients. Chimichurri is a vinegar-parsley salsa from Argentina and Uruguay, served with grilled meat. A thin, smooth, light brown sauce called salsa lizano is served in Costa Rica. The type of salsa found in the Caribbean and Cuba is mojo, made with citrus juice and oil.
Green Kitchen Pico de Gallo
3-5 small (vine or heirloom specialty) tomatoes, chopped
1 small white or red onion, chopped
1/2 green, yellow, or red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
2-3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
2-3 T fresh cilantro, chopped
2-3 T fresh lime juice
1 T agave or preferred sweetener to taste
dash of salt & pepper
Combine all ingredients, refrigerate at least 30 minutes, serve with chips or on any Mexican dish.
Salsa verde
4-6 medium tomatillos, de-husked and cleaned
1/3 C. sweet yellow onion, chopped
2-3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 Tbs. dried cilantro
1/2 tsp. sugar
dash of lime juice
dash of salt & pepper
After removing the tomatillo husks and rinsing well, place them in boiling water for 5-7 minutes. Remove and let cool. Meanwhile, combine all other ingredients in a food processor, adding the tomatillos when cool to touch. Puree all ingredients until just blended. Serve warm with an entree, or chill for dipping.
Mexican Mole Sauce
— from allrecipes.com
2 tsp. vegetable oil
1/4 C.
1 Tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. dried cilantro
1/8 Tbs. dried minced garlic
1 can condensed tomato soup (low sodium)
1 can diced green chili peppers
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, and cook the onion until tender. Mix in cocoa powder, cumin, cilantro, and garlic. Stir in the tomato soup and green chile peppers. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 10 minutes. Transfer to a gravy boat or pour directly over food to serve.
Hot Peach Salsa
3-4 peaches, peeled and diced
1/2 C. red onion, chopped
1/4 C. jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped (adjust to taste)
2 Tbs. lime juice
1 Tbs. agave or honey
fresh cilantro
In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients and chill. Top on grilled meat or fish, or serve with toasted pita chips.
Texas Caviar
—from Rachel Ray via foodnetwork.com
4 C. cooked black-eyed peas, drained and cooled
1 C. diced yellow onion
1 C. diced red onion
1 green or red bell pepper, diced
1 Tbs. minced garlic
1 Tbs. Cajun seasoning
1/3 C. olive oil
1/3 C. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. black pepper
Mix all ingredients thoroughly in a large bowl. Chill in the refrigerator for 24 hours, stirring occasionally. Stir again before serving.
from epicurious.com
1 C. (packed) fresh Italian parsley
1/2 C. olive oil
1/3 C. red wine vinegar
1/4 C. (packed) fresh cilantro
2 garlic cloves, peeled
3/4 tsp. dried crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
Puree all ingredients in processor. Transfer to bowl. (Can be made 2 hours ahead. Cover and let stand at room temperature.)
Mojo Salsa
-from “Cooking Light,” 1998
1 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 tsp. annatto (achiote seed; optional)
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 Tbs. fresh orange juice
3 Tbs. fresh lime juice
2 C. diced seeded plum tomato (about 4 small)
1 Tbs. minced fresh basil
1 Tbs.minced fresh chives
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
Combine oil and annatto (if desired) in a saucepan; cook over low heat 5 minutes. Remove from heat; let stand 10 minutes. Strain through a sieve over a bowl; discard seeds. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil mixture in pan; discard remaining oil mixture. Add garlic; sauté 3 minutes. Add juices; bring to a simmer. Stir in tomato and remaining ingredients, and remove from heat. Serve warm over grilled fish or chicken.
Note: Salsa can be made up to two days ahead of time; cover and chill. Reheat in the microwave or in a saucepan over medium heat. If you choose not to use the annatto, use only 1 1/2 teaspoons oil.
Cucumber-Radish Salsa
-from loveandoliveoil.com
6 large radishes, diced or cut into matchsticks
1 large english (seedless) cucumber, chopped or cut into matchsticks
1/4 C. chopped cilantro
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 Tbs. fresh lime juice
1 Tbs. olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt
In a medium bowl, combine radish, cucumber, cilantro, garlic, lime juice, and olive oil. Toss to coat. Cover and chill up to 2 hours. Season with salt to taste.
Avocado Feta Salsa
-from Better Homes & Gardens (bhg.com)
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 avocado, halved, seeded, peeled, and chopped
1/4 C. finely chopped red onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbs. snipped fresh parsley
1 Tbs. snipped fresh oregano
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. red or white wine vinegar
4 oz. feta cheese, coarsely crumbled
In a medium bowl combine tomatoes, avocado, onion, garlic, parsley, oregano, oil, and vinegar. Stir gently to mix. Gently stir in feta cheese. Cover and chill for 2 hours or up to 6 hours. Serve salsa with pita or tortilla chips. Makes 12 (1/4 cup) servings.