One of the most useful recipes you can have in your repertoire is salsa. Salsa is super-easy to make, can be varied as many ways as you like, and has 101 uses. Need a dip for a party? Salsa! Need a super-fancy garnish for grilled or broiled fish? Salsa! Need something to jazz up a burrito? Salsa! What else can you do with it? That’s totally up to you.
Salsa means “sauce” in Spanish, and it is ubiquitious in Mexican and other Latin cuisines. Usually, when we think of salsa, we think of the tomato-chile kind, and it’s true that tomato salsa is the most versatile of salsas, the kind you’ll make most often. But once you know the basic formula, you can make any kind of salsa you like. You’ll feel like a four-star chef when you serve your guests broiled swordfish with mango-cucumber-mint salsa.
The only drawback to salsa is that it’s definitely for summer eating only. True salsa is raw and therefore requires the ripest ingredients, which are generally available only at the height of summer.
To make a basic salsa to serve 4, combine:
- 2 tomatoes, diced
- 1 chile, minced
- ¼ red onion, minced
- 1 tbsp. lime juice
- cilantro, salt and cayenne to taste
Puree if you want a smoother sauce, or leave it chunky a dip or relish.
Now, if you want to mix it up, just make any subsitutions you like:
- For the tomato, substitute any soft fruit: avocado, oranges, nectarines, mango, papaya, plums, peaches (yes, tomatoes and avocados are fruit!)
- For the chile, or in addition to it, add any vegetable with crunch: corn, cucumber, jicama, bell pepper, celery
- For the red onion, substitute shallots or scallions
- For the cilantro, substitute any herbs, such as basil, mint or chives
- For the lime juice, substitute lemon juice, red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar