Tuesday, May 1, 2012

How to Make a Fruit Salsa

I fell in love with fruit salsa while working at a Southwestern restaurant. Salsas were a big part of the garnish for grilled foods, like fish or chicken. It's a great way to boost flavor in a simple dish. It's also a fun way to get fruit into your diet. We didn't have a recipe most of the time, but the method was always similar.

Here's the basic recipe:
  • diced fruit, 
  • some crunch (like red onions or diced sweet peppers or both), 
  • something tart like lime juice,
  • a bit of heat from chiles,
  • some chopped fresh or frozen herbs,
  • and salt to bring it all together.

The "recipe" is very flexible and it's a good way to use up fruit. Just about any fruit will do. The salsa in the picture is mango, but melons, pineapple, berries, grapes, peaches are wonderful too. For the tart part, lemon and lime juice are good, as are fruity vinegars like raspberry vinegar or balsamic (particularly good with strawberries). The chiles add some punch and you can pick the level of heat you like. Leave them out if you don't like spicy. Use jalapenos for a little, serranos or chipotles for a bit more, and habarnero for hot, hot, hot! Habarneros are wicked hot - be very careful handling them - but they go especially well with fruit because of their own fruity notes. I used chipotle in adobo because that was all I had. No fresh chiles in the house! For herbs, mint, basil, parsley, cilantro and chives are all possibilities. Mint and basil work in almost any fruit salsa. For something really exotic, use lemon thyme or Thai basil.

To get you started, here's the recipe for the mango salsa. Great on grilled chicken breasts or fish fillets.

Mango Salsa
(makes about 1 1/2 cups, total cost is $1.50)

1 mango, peeled and diced (see Notes)
1 scallion, sliced thinly
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon chopped chipotle chile in adobo (see Notes)
4 leaves of mint, chopped fine
1 large pinch of salt
1 small pinch of black pepper

Combine everything in a bowl. Serve immediately though it usually tastes better if it sits in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

Mangoes can be tricky to cut up. Check out this video from the Mango Board on how to do it right.
Chipotle chiles in adobo are smoked dried red jalapenos that are packed in a vinegary tomato sauce. They come in small cans. They are hotter than most green jalapenos.

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