Nothing says “summer” like salsa. Every time I take a bite of fresh tomato salsa or homemade guacamole I feel like I’m poolside or oceanside, basking in the sun and relaxing. Even if I’m just standing at the counter trying to enjoy a quick snack while my children tear apart the house around me.
That’s why I have an arsenal of salsas in my cooking bag of tricks. It’s like a vacation in a bite. Today I’m going to share three quick recipes for fresh, savory-and-sweet salsas for you to enjoy poolside or counter-side, or wherever you may need a pick-me-up on a humdrum day.
To me, chips and fresh tomato salsa are the perfect food. You’ve got all of the best flavors in one dish: the sweetness of the tomatoes, the saltiness of the chips, the freshness of the cilantro, the zip of the freshly-squeezed lime, the kick of the onions and garlic, all in one crunchy-yet-smooth bite. A good fresh salsa is a perfect symphony of complex flavors, but the truth is, it’s surprisingly easy to make. The key is to choose ingredients that are perfectly ripe but not overly so, and let their flavors speak for themselves.
The first recipe I have for you is a blender version of my own little bowl of heaven: fast yet unbelievably delicious tomato salsa. It’s one of those recipes where you literally throw everything in and let ‘er rip. I recommend using tomatoes on the vine, which have a freshness that can’t be found with other tomatoes. But you can use any kind of tomatoes in a pinch. The second is a mango salsa that also has a beautiful complexity but also has just a bit of a kick. It’s a recipe I have photocopied in my recipe box, so I don’t know where it came from. If anyone knows please tell me the source so I can give credit where it’s due. If you want a sweeter salsa without the spice, you can omit the chili and still get fantastic results. The third is a corn and black bean salsa that has a double life as a salad, which makes for a fresh and satisfying lunch with or without tortilla chips. It is incredibly easy and quick to make — just chop, stir, and you’re done — but is also delightfully complex in flavor, which makes it a great potluck dish to take to your next summer soiree.
Smooth Tomato Salsa
- 2 tomatoes on the vine (stems removed)
- 1 green onion
- About 1/4 cup white onion
- 1-2 cloves of garlic, peeled
- Handful of cilantro (about 1/3 cup)
- Juice of 1 lime
- Salt to taste (about 2 teaspoons)
Roughly chop the tomatoes, onions, garlic, and cilantro; just enough to give the blender a head start. Throw everything into the blender and pulse a few times to break down and blend the ingredients. Be careful of letting the blender process for too long, as it will make your salsa foamy. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more salt, cilantro, and lime as needed. Serve immediately or chill in the fridge.
Sweet and Spicy Mango Salsa
- 1 ripe mango, peeled and diced
- 1 cucumber, scrubbed, seeded, and diced
- 1/2 medium red onion, diced
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/2 Scotch bonnet chile or other hot chile, seeded and minced
- 3 Tablespoons lime juice, or more to taste
- 1 Tablespoon brown sugar, or more to taste
Combine all the ingredients in a nonreactive mixing bowl and stir to mix. Taste for seasoning, adding lime juice or brown sugar as necessary. The salsa will taste best when served within a few hours of being made.
Corn and Black Bean Salsa
- 2 tomatoes, seeded and diced
- 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 can sweet corn or 2 cups frozen sweet corn, thawed
- 1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
- Juice of 1 lime
- Salt to taste
Mix all ingredients together and adjust salt, lime, and cilantro to taste. Serve immediately or eat within a few days, as the black beans will start to get soggy.