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A Salsa for Every Occasion

Salsa, a word that in English translates to “sauce,” has found its way into American cuisine over the course of the last 100 years or so. Associated often with Mexican food, salsas show up in cuisines all over the world in various styles, from fruit salsas to vegetable salsas to everything in between. When you think of salsa it is likely that you think of a tomato-based mix of chopped up vegetables and fruits that is used as a topping or dip for many Mexican dishes. Salsa has an ambiguous form however, so it can be made up of pretty much anything you want- even those strawberries that are starting to get mushy and you need to find something to do with them. Make a salsa! It’s one of the most popular condiments in the United States, it’s easy to make, and it can add both freshness and nutrients to nearly any meal.

Tomato and Tomatillo- Based Salsas

These are your classic salsas. The ones you bring to a family barbecue, share at a party, or eat for a light yet satisfying lunch. When making your own homemade salsas, be sure to pick out ripe, flavorful ingredients. The tomatoes or tomatillos should be especially flavorful in these recipes that feature them, but if you have average tomatoes, or maybe even tomatoes that aren’t super great tasting, you can help them taste a little bit better with some spices or a quick roast in the oven! Roasting tomatoes absolutely helps draw out some really good, deep flavor.

Fresh Heirloom Tomato Salsa

This is the sophisticated tomato salsa that you probably tasted when you were introduced to salsa. When homemade, fresh heirloom tomato salsa is what salsa in a jar wishes it could be. An heirloom is a variety of tomato that has been passed down through several generations of a family because of its valued flavor characteristics. This is the type of tomato that is just bursting with fresh, summery flavor and it is precisely the sort of tomato you would want to use in a homemade salsa.

Chile Colorado

While not Tex-Mex, it certainly takes cues from traditional Mexican dishes and puts a premium on dried chiles. This salsa is a perfect example of why dried New Mexico Chiles have become such an important part of American Cuisine. Add it to enchiladas, tamales or over some scrambled eggs or huevos rancheros.

Roasted Salsa Verde

Tomatillos are found in many dishes within Mexican cuisine. They are getting easier to find in grocery stores as well, with more Mexican American populations expanding all across the country and the general interest in new foods and ingredients. This salsa is served cold, so it can be made in large batches and then refrigerated for later use. Add some red bell pepper for color and Chipotle Morita Flakes for some smoky heat.

Farm Fresh Verde Salsa

Salsa verde means “green salsa” and it is also sometimes called “Tomatillo Salsa.” This is a salsa well-suited for chips, tacos, and eggs. It’s the perfect snacking salsa and can also be kept in the fridge.

Salsa a la Veracruzana

Part of the appeal of this salsa is that it is easy and fun to make because there’s truly no wrong way to make it. Just be sure to include manzanilla green olives and capers and you have this salsa! It’s usually served on fish, but it’s incredible on a hearty bowl of pasta in place of a red sauce. This salsa is Mexican, but it has Spanish roots- hence the olives.

Spicy Shrimp Salsa

Salsa is not restricted to tomatoes and onions! Add spicy shrimp and take that classic recipe to a whole new level. Adding some cumin for a little kick and a citrus element, like lemon or lime juice powder, and you will have a totally new flavor profile just from a standard tomato and onion salsa.

Other Vegetable Salsas

While traditional salsas do in fact contain a tomato or a tomatillo base, these vegetable-based options are also considered salsas! Use some spices and seasonings to really get some intense flavor with your vegetable salsas, which are a multifaceted part of a meal. You can truly incorporate any vegetable your heart desires and create a delicious meal accompanying salsa. Alternatively, some of these salsas can be a main dish of their own, like our first salsa listed, the black bean and corn salsa.

Black Bean and Corn Salsa

This robust salsa combines black beans, corn and avocados and can be used as a side or topping for many dishes. Tacos, quesadillas, even scrambled eggs are great companions for this colorful salsa, but it can be scooped up on a tortilla chip and enjoyed as is as well.

Rhubarb Salsa

If you thought that rhubarb was only good for pies and jellies, you were wrong! This rhubarb and jalapeno salsa is made up of different textures and unexpected flavors. The balance of slightly sweet with a dash of heat is instantly appealing to the mouth, only to be topped off with a bit of bitter sourness from the rhubarb.

Mole Sauce

When looking at a menu for any Mexican or Tex-Mex restaurant here in the United States, you will likely see at least one dish with a mole sauce. Whether on enchiladas or a chicken and rice dish, mole is a staple in Mexican cuisine and is considered a salsa for its chunky vegetable bits. Many mole recipes incorporate more than ten ingredients just to make one sauce! This salsa was designed to be used in our Mole Chili, but it can be added just about anywhere you want some smokiness and a hint of chocolatey flavor. Now this may not seem like your standard salsa, especially if you think of salsas as being universally chunky, but since salsa is technically a sauce and mole sauce is one of the most important salsas in Mexican cuisine, it is important to include it in this list of salsas. 

Fruit Salsa

The difference between a fruit salad and a fruit salsa is the cut. When do you use a fruit salsa? Fruit salsas are best suited for dishes that have a lot of plain fish, chicken, or otherwise blasé tasting foods. You may also just eat up your fruit salsa by the spoonful, no judgement. These salsas peak in the summertime, when ripe, fresh, sweet berries are in season and they can be incorporated into the dish. Don’t use fruits that are overripe or else the salsa will be more of an applesauce consistency than a salsa consistency. Strawberries, melons, pineapple, mangoes, peaches, oranges, and blueberries are some common ingredients used to make uncommonly delicious salsas. Just be sure your chunks are all consistent, small, uniform sizes, otherwise you will be walking in fruit salad territory.

Pineapple Habanero Salsa

What’s the perfect salsa for summer months when grilling and cooking outside become the norm? Pineapple Habanero Salsa! Sweet pineapple coupled with the sweet chile heat from a habanero makes for a refreshing, delightful salsa that is perfect for something like Grilled Tilapia Tostadas.

Mango Salsa

A very fruity twist on pico de gallo. It is a sweet, tangy salsa that pairs nicely with everything from grilled chicken to a cheese tray. Mango salsa is so refreshing that it’s a side that requires little to no thought to decide on when it is paired with hot foods or incredibly rich foods like gourmet grilled cheeses or even cheesecake!

Mango Chutney

Not all salsas are Mexican in origin or inspiration. Chutneys are the South East Asian equivalent and they have been served since 500 BCE. The basic formula a chutney follows is add whatever ingredients you want, but make sure there is something sweet, something sour, and something spicy in the mix. Chutneys are used as a dip or like a thick, chunky sauce one everything from sandwiches to meat dishes.

Strawberry, Blueberry and Jicama Salsa

Beautiful summer berries are not just for dessert. This spicy salsa has the sweetness of strawberries and blueberries but the spiciness of jalapeno, making it perfect for the main course of an outdoor get together. If you’ve never tried jicama, we highly suggest it. It’s becoming more popular so it’s possible that you can find it at your local farmer’s market. Jicama, sometimes called the Mexican potato, is a starchy vegetable that can be cooked like a potato or eaten raw. Most people prefer to eat it raw. This salsa is perfect for entertaining or when you want to try something a little out of the ordinary. The delectable taste of the jicama combined with the strawberries and blueberries will have your guests asking for your secret recipe.

Peach Salsa

If you have too many ripe peaches to eat all by yourself in one sitting, chop them up and make them into a salsa! Throw some ginger in there for a bit of a pleasant, surprising flavor and top it off with red pepper flakes for a delightful kick of flavor.

No matter what kind of salsa you decide to make, remember that it’s all up to you what it tastes like! Use herbs, spices, and seasonings to help maximize the flavor of your ingredients. Try to gather the freshest ingredients you can and remember to build the flavors of your salsa off what tastes good together, but also based off what looks good together. Salsa is one of the easiest things you can make, so don’t wait. Enjoy a fresh, homemade salsa right now!

Read More

Tex-Mex vs Mexican
Mexican Spices, Seasonings, and Chiles
A Spicy Guide to New Mexican Cuisine
What is Salsa?

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