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Salsas supply summer flexibility

Here’s a trio of summer salsas that will dress up any grilled meats or seafood, or, simply serve with chips. Clockwise from left: Cherry Salsa, Melon Salsa and Nectarine Avocado Salsa. (Lorie Hutson)
Here’s a trio of summer salsas that will dress up any grilled meats or seafood, or, simply serve with chips. Clockwise from left: Cherry Salsa, Melon Salsa and Nectarine Avocado Salsa. (Lorie Hutson)

There’s no need to fire up the stove in this heat. Why cook, when you can chop?

Summer salsas take some prep work, but the result is a tasty, refreshing mixture versatile enough to scoop with chips, top grilled salmon fillets or dress up chicken or pork. Salsas make a great substitute for salad dressings, too.

I love tropical fruit salsas, but at this time of year you can save on the food miles those mangoes and pineapple must travel by choosing locally grown fruits for your salsa instead. Peaches, nectarines, melon, cherries and berries all make delicious salsas. Choose the perfectly ripe fruits from the local farmers markets for the best flavor.

Let your family or friends help with the chopping, and these mixtures come together fast. They are forgiving, so don’t be afraid to substitute ingredients if you don’t have something on hand or if you need to turn down the heat.

Lemon juice easily substitutes for lime, for example. If serrano chilies are too spicy for your family or guests, try a jalapeño instead. Don’t have green onions on hand? Try a sweet onion instead.

Since they are made from fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs, they will appeal to anyone. Just take care when you choose how to serve them to consider your gluten-free, vegan or vegetarian family members and friends.

Here is a trio of recipes to help you get started. We served the nectarine and avocado salsa on grilled tilapia for a delicious take on fish tacos. The recipe author suggests serving it on grilled chicken kebabs seasoned with lime juice, chili powder and garlic.

The cherry salsa was divine on salmon, but would be equally delicious on pork or chicken.

Chef and cookbook author Mark Miller suggests serving his melon salsa on empanadas, grilled tuna or cold shellfish.

The truth is, these salsas are equally delicious and versatile. And, in this heat, no one would blame you if you just served homemade salsa and chips for dinner.

Nectarine Salsa

From Cooking Light , www.cookinglight.com

2 cups diced nectarine (about 3)

1/2 cup diced red bell pepper

1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 teaspoons minced seeded jalapeño pepper

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup diced peeled avocado

Combine nectarines and next 6 ingredients (through ¼ teaspoon salt) in a bowl. Gently stir in avocado.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Cherry Salsa

From the Food Network, www.foodnetwork.com

4 cups cherries, stemmed, pitted, and chopped

8 green onions, chopped

1 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 jalapeno pepper, chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl until combined.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Melon Salsa

From “Coyote Café” by Mark Miller

1 ripe cantaloupe (about 2 pounds)

1/2 sweet red pepper, seeded

2 serrano chilies, finely minced

2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar

Juice of 1 lime

Sugar, to taste

Cut melon and red pepper into ¼-inch dice. Combine with chilies, cilantro, vinegar and lime juice. Add sugar, if necessary. Let sit for 30 minutes in refrigerator before serving. This recipes should be used the same day it is made.

Yield: 2 ½ cups

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