5 fresh, homemade salsas

Tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo-olé! We're way too busy this week to throw a proper dinner party on a Tuesday night. Plus it's a "school night," so we're just going to have friends over for a low-key margarita and chips-and-salsa party on our deck. It's a good excuse to get together and unwind after work. And since most salsas taste better with age, I can make them tonight. (And if you do have time to throw a dinner party, check out our Healthy Mexican Recipe Collection!)


My favorite salsa is Salsa Rojo (recipe below). It's a homemade version of the tomato salsa served at taco stands and burrito joints everywhere. Try it with all your favorite Mexican foods-it even works as enchilada sauce.


Tomato & Green Olive Salsa is a zesty spin on standard tomato salsa that includes sliced green olives and hot pepper relish. Serve as a dip with toasted pita chips or spoon over grilled fish or chicken.


Try Watermelon Salsa with tortilla chips as a refreshing alternative to a tomato salsa. Sweet, savory and crunchy salsa accompanies grilled pork or chicken rather nicely.


Crisp, peppery diced radishes, sweet, juicy mango and tart lime juice have opposing flavors that come together here to create salsa nirvana in Mango-Radish Salsa. Serve with grilled fish, steak or chicken or just put out a dish of it with some crisp baked corn chips.


Tomatillos are delicious raw, but they take on a sweet, smoky flavor when cooked on the grill for this Grilled Tomatillo Salsa. This quick salsa is delicious on a chip, makes a great topping for grilled meats and fish and it's excellent with eggs and corn tortillas. If you like, add some diced avocado just before serving.


Salsa Rojo
Active time: 30 minutes | Total: 2 hours (including cooling time) | To make ahead: Prepare through Step 3. Cover and refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze in an airtight container for up to 6 months. Stir in cilantro and lime juice just before serving.

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup diced onion
2 medium chile peppers, such as poblano, New Mexico or Anaheim, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, diced (about 4 1/2 cups)
1 tablespoon ancho chili powder (see Shopping Tip) or chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons lime juice

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, chile peppers and garlic and cook, stirring, until the onion is soft and beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes.
2. Reduce heat to medium. Add tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, salt and cayenne. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have broken down and thickened slightly, 6 to 8 minutes.
3. Carefully transfer the tomato mixture to a food processor or blender. Pulse to make a chunky sauce, or until desired consistency. (Use caution when pureeing hot ingredients.)
4. Let cool to room temperature, about 11/2 hours. Stir in cilantro and lime juice just before serving.

Makes about 3 cups.

Per 1/2-cup serving: 67 calories; 3 g fat (0 g sat, 2 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 10 g carbohydrate; 2 g protein; 3 g fiber; 409 mg sodium; 393 mg potassium. Nutrition bonus: Vitamin C (80% daily value), Vitamin A (30% dv).

Shopping tip: Ancho chile, a dried poblano pepper, is one of the most popular dried chiles used in Mexico. It has a mild, sweet, spicy flavor. Find ground ancho chili powder in the specialty spice section of large supermarkets.


By Carolyn Malcoun

When associate editor Carolyn Malcoun came to Vermont to attend New England Culinary Institute, she knew she didn't want to work in a restaurant but knew that she wanted to do something in the food industry. Luckily she discovered EatingWell, where she's able to combine her love of food and writing.



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