Recipe Review

Tomato-Free Zone: A Template for Building 4-Ingredient Fruit Salsas

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Jenny Huang)

When you think about salsa, it’s easy to jump to the classic tomato-based version. But with warmer weather (and a new selection of fresh produce) on the horizon, why not expand your options with a few brighter, bolder, sweeter flavors? Just don’t forget the chips.

An Easy Template for Fruit Salsa

Salsa really doesn’t require a recipe. As long as you’re tasting along the way, measuring isn’t really necessary. Instead, the most important thing about this satisfying snack is putting together a lineup of ingredients with varying flavors and textures that play well together and balance each other out. This template includes four basic types of ingredients, and while I suggest certain amounts of each, the best salsas are the ones you adjust to meet your taste. All of these would be tasty with a little lime juice squeezed in to finish.

Fruit + allium + herb + heat

The Template Components

  • Fruit: This is the easy part; choose what you like. Mango has long been a favorite to build a salsa around, so for these three recipes we branched out a bit to show the range of fruit you have at your fingertips. Firm fruit with a high sugar content can be used fresh, but roasting, like we do with the pineapple, turns it smoky and sticky-sweet. In-season peaches, plums, nectarines, and even strawberries benefit from a flicker of high heat.
  • Alliums: Temper the sweetness of the fruit with the flavor and savory undercurrent of a range of alliums. Shallots, red onions, garlic, scallion — it’s up to you. If you want to temper the bite of onions, give them a rinse in cold water first.
  • Herbs: Since we’re already diverting from the standard of tomatoes, why not bring more than cilantro to the mix? Mint, chives, basil, and parsley are all fair game.
  • Heat: What’s a good salsa without a hint of heat? Certain flavors go better than others (blackberries and chipotle are a total power couple), but again, this is still your opportunity to freestyle flavors to create a mix you like.

Each salsa makes about two cups, and is plenty to serve about two to four people. Serve it immediately after making or chill in the fridge for up to three days.

(Image credit: Jenny Huang)

1. Roasted Pineapple Salsa

Roasting the pineapple brings out hints of caramel and brown sugar, giving this chunky salsa a deep, rich flavor. Those sweeter notes meet their match in cooling fresh mint and a dash (or two, if you want to heat things up) of cayenne pepper. Grab a bag of chips or better yet use this salsa to top your favorite burger, a piece of pan-seared fish, or a chicken breast that’s looking for a pick-me-up.

Get the Recipe: Roasted Pineapple Salsa

(Image credit: Jenny Huang)

2. Kiwi-Jalapeño Salsa

This is the salsa to mix up when you’re in the mood for something bright, sassy, and a little tangy. Just as much as I love scooping this sweet salsa with tortillas, it’s my new go-to topping for fish tacos.

Get the Recipe: Kiwi-Jalapeño Salsa

(Image credit: Jenny Huang)

3. Smoky Blackberry-Chipotle Salsa

I’m convinced that sweet blackberries and smoky chiptotle were made to be paired together. They’re each good on their own, but when brought together this dynamic duo creates a bold, rich blend. This is the kind of salsa I love pairing with goat cheese or brie (especially when it’s baked and melty), and bringing to the dinner table as a way to complement pork chops or a pork tenderloin.

Get the Recipe: Blackberry-Chipotle Salsa