Perhaps we have the rise of fast-casual Mexican restaurants to thank for the popularization of salsa. Or maybe it was the booming flavors of Tex-Mex and Southwest cuisines that made salsa a “thing.” When salsa arrived it was wildly popular, but it seemed to lack creativity. Every restaurant served it the same way – red and limited to “mild, medium, or hot” versions accompanied by a basket full of tortilla chips. Time has been on salsa’s side, because over the past few years home cooks and chefs have experimented and learned that salsa can be a nutritious treat made from just about anything. Authentic versions are amazingly flavorful, created with smokey chili peppers, spicy red onions, tart lime juice and earthy tomatillos. Newer trends in salsa utilize those foods while incorporating other non-traditional ingredients like pineapple and even kimchi. With Americans struggling to meet their fruit and vegetable needs, it leaves us thinking – maybe salsa can help!
How? Salsa is typically made from fruits and vegetables, making it a simple way to get more produce into your meals and snacks. Plus, salsa is delicious – and with so many varieties, it’s hard to get bored. Think about it, how does a grilled chicken breast sound? Now, how does a grilled chicken breast with roasted jalapeño mango salsa sound? See?
Convinced now that salsa belongs on your plate? Ready to Salsa-fy your life? Try these simple salsa hacks!
Savory Salsa Hacks
(Savory salsas = tomato or other vegetable-based salsas)
- Toast: Add some salsa to you next toast creation. It’s the perfect addition to avocado toast or even that over-easy egg toast you make on the weekends.
- Salad dressing: Out of your favorite salad topper? Why not turn your salsa into a fabulous salad dressing? Use a hearty corn-based salsa or if you prefer something smooth, try pureeing a chunkier salsa to drizzle over salads. You can even mix your salsa with a little Greek yogurt to make a delicious, creamy version.
- Hamburger topper: Forget ketchup and mustard, try salsa instead. And don’t be afraid to experiment with different salsa types for this application. Tomatillo or fire roasted tomato salsa makes a delicious condiment.
- Pasta: Tired of marinara or pesto? Try salsa! Next time your cook up your favorite pasta, consider using salsa as your sauce of choice. Many versions work here including spicy, chipotle salsa which pairs well with shrimp and other lean proteins.
- Marinade: Tired of lemon and garlic marinades? Use that leftover salsa to add some spunk to your next chicken or beef dish.
- Breakfast: Layer it onto a grilled cheese sandwich or spoon a little onto your favorite omelette for an extra kick! Don’t forget our Farmer’s Market Frittata
Why not start by making your own salsa. Kick things off with this Smoky Salsa Roja
Smoky Salsa Roja
(Sweet salsas = mango, watermelon or other fruit-based salsas)
- Oatmeal or yogurt: You top your oatmeal and yogurt with fresh fruit, so why not use a fruit-based salsa? Try strawberry-basil salsa or even a watermelon salsa for fun way to mix things up.
- Frozen treats: Ice cream is delicious and you can’t beat hot fudge as a topping, but salsa is pretty darn good too! Throw a frozen ice cream or yogurt party and load the table with different fruit-forward salsas.
- Grilled fruits: Add more fruit to that fruit! Grill up some pineapple or peaches then top with a mango-papaya salsa.
- Angel food cake: Skip the powdered sugar glaze and use salsa instead. Try one made with a variety of melons mixed with fresh lime juice and mint.
- Phyllo cups: Need an easy dessert? Fill mini phyllo cups with fruit salsa and then top with vanilla Greek yogurt.
- Topper for Savory Foods: Just because it’s a sweet salsa, doesn’t mean you have to limit it’s use for sweet applications. Use a sweet salsa to cut the heaviness of grilled beef dishes or as a compliment to clean, simple fish recipes.